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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How To Shop For Home Security Systems

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


The burglar alarm industry is one that has a lot of honest companies, but there are also scamsters out there that you've got to look out for.

Nothing makes you feel more invaded than coming home to a break-in. Burglar alarm salespeople often read local police reports and may show up with an emotional sales pitch seeking to capitalize on your fear and anxiety. Of course, it's better to search for an alarm-monitoring company before you need them.

Shopping for home security systems can be confusing. Keep these pointers in mind:

  • First, ask if they require a contract. You never want to sign a long-term contract. If you do, you open yourself to the danger of hidden rollover provisions.
  • Your second question should be about their monthly monitoring fees. You want something in the mid-to-high teens -- no more than $22 or 24 per month at the most.
  • Then ask about equipment installation costs. You can usually get a preliminary quote over the phone by counting the number of doors and windows you have to protect. Consider adding an internal motion sensor as well. Initial equipment installation costs can be anywhere between $600 and $800 for a typical home.
  • Finally, make sure your monitoring station is UL approved and also offers fire detection.
  • You might also consider SimpliSafe.com, a company that offers $15 a month monitoring on simple burglar alarm systems you install yourself. No technical know how is necessary! Read an extensive review of the service here.
  • Don't forget about the basics of home security. This article about 13 Things a Burglar Won't Tell You has some sobering reminders about the simple things we do that inadvertently invite burglars into our homes.
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