CHICAGO, IL. – June 26, 2012 – Burglaries increase dramatically in summer. Residents and neighbors are more likely to be gone and not around to observe suspicious activity. People often leave doors and windows open in the summer months. And plants in full bloom often provide cover for break-ins. These and other issues make summer the ideal time for a home break-in. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) is advising homeowners, who are looking to install a home security system, to do research first.
In the last 12 months, the BBB serving Chicago and northern Illinois received more than 3,400 inquiries about burglar alarm systems. This is a 34 percent increase over the 2,425 inquiries for the previous 12 months.
“It is very important to investigate a home security system with the same care you would any major purchase,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. “There are differences in systems. Plus, there are too many door-to-door salespeople selling home security systems that don’t always have your best interests at heart.”
Bernas noted that while no security system makes your home completely burglar-proof, a home security system may reduce your chances of being broken into and provide peace of mind.
The BBB advises consumers to do the following when looking to invest in a home security system:
· Choose a professional installer. Deal only with reputable firms and check out the company’s Business Review with your BBB first at www.bbb.org The best home security system will accommodate your lifestyle and the specific valuables you want protected. Carefully consider your security requirements and budget. You may also get recommendation from the insurance company that covers your home.
· Contact at least three companies before selecting an installer. Find out if they are properly licensed in Illinois and if they screen employees before hiring. Make sure to check with the Electronic Security Association website for a list of member companies throughout the United States who have agreed to abide by the National Code of Ethics. Free bids from Accredited Businesses are available with the BBB’s Request a Quote feature available on www.bbb.org
· Ask about all charges up front. Prices for home security systems will vary, based on the level of protection and type of technology used, so be sure to compare bids on similar systems. Do not forget to factor in the initial installation charge, as well as monthly monitoring charges. Talk to your insurance agent; some systems may qualify you for a discount on homeowner's premiums.
· Know the ins and outs of your contract. If your alarm system will be monitored, either by your installing company or by a third-party monitoring center, find out the length of the contract. Typically, monitoring contracts are between two to five years in length. What is your recourse if you are not satisfied with the services provided? Can you cancel the contract? What are your rights if your monitoring company is purchased or acquired by another alarm company? These are the types of questions you need to consider before you obligate yourself to a long-term contract.
· Insist that the installer "walk" you through your system until you fully understand how it works. This will prevent the most common problem: false alarms. False alarms are an indicator of the quality of the alarm installation and user education. Ask for a complete inspection of your property and an itemized written estimate. Review the sales contract closely to ensure you understand exactly what equipment and protection you will be provided.
For more information on finding businesses and consumer tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org
As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.