One way to tell the real alarm companies from the wannabe providers is by an important issue known as compliance – and that means playing by the rules of the industry established by states and local jurisdictions. Periodically I like to address these "nuts and bolts" issues: in this case, what it means for your alarm company to be properly licensed, and what it means for you to have an alarm permit with your local jurisdiction.
Most States Have Alarm Company Licensing
Almost every states in the US requires an alarm company to have a special license. The intent of these licensing requirements is to protect you, the consumer from unqualified and unscrupulous operators. Requirements for company licensing may include fingerprinting, background checks, documented experience in the industry (and a clean complaint record!), and even technical proficiency exams. Some of these exams are pretty hard – I know, because I'm the one who takes them for Frontpoint.
Avoid Fines, and Make Sure Police Respond
Licensing laws vary by state, by county, and even by city or town – and it's a serious issue, with big fines and even possible jail time for companies who break the law. Worst of all, for you the subscriber: working with an unlicensed alarm company, or having a non-registered alarm system, could mean that the police or fire department won’t respond to an alarm at your home: plus, you could be fined as well. That's why asking a company about licensing upfront is so important.
Alarm Subscriber Permits (That's You!)
Then there are the subscriber alarm permits. Using Maryland as an example, most Maryland counties also require the end-user to obtain an alarm permit, and there are normally false alarm fines levied on repeat offenders. But the same requirement exists in local jurisdictions across the US. It's a good idea to read up on these issues, so you know what applies in your jurisdiction. Of course, the best alarm companies have done all the permit and false alarm fine research already, and proactively tell you everything you need to know.
What Can You Do?
- Any time you are shopping an alarm company, ask them about their licensing status – both state and local. In many states, any alarm employee coming to your home or business is required to carry an ID card issued by the state or company, often with a photo.
- You can also go on-line in many states and check on the status of a company, through the state's consumer protection or professional licensing division.
- If there is any question about the need for an end-user permit for your system, check with your local police department: there is often a False Alarm Reduction Unit (FARU) that handles these permits.
- While you are at it, make sure you have all the information on false alarm fines. Many jurisdictions have an escalating fine structure for repeat offenders – and you want to avoid those. One more reason to pick a good alarm company!
That's the short course on alarm company compliance. There's no exam for you to take, now that we're done – Frontpoint takes care of all the test taking! But we're sharing this information so that you'll be that much smarter when you pick up the phone, or go online to shop for home security.
Alarm company compliance is just one more way to compare providers and offers with confidence. And if that means more peace of mind for you as you protect your home and family, then that's good enough for us.