If you’re hoping for a professional to put your security system in place, you have many to choose from — and some will be better than others. Before installation begins, you should ask questions about licensing, identification and more. When the work is done, you should have protection you can rely on to keep your home and your possessions safe from theft. But you’ll need to approach the project carefully to ensure that you don’t endure a security risk at the same time. When the day of installation arrives, you have a few more questions to ask and danger signs to watch for.
Ask these questions first
It’s easy to think of installation day as the time of greatest danger. In reality, the decisions you make leading up to installation can have a big impact on your safety and your security risks. Before you hire a company to put a security system into your home, make sure that the organization can provide you with:
A valid license.
In some communities, electrical contractors are required to have valid installation licenses before they do work. That seal of approval ensures they have training and professionalism you can trust. Your contractor should provide you with a license number you can confirm with officials.
Identification and proof of affiliate.
Scams are common within the security industry. Door-to-door sales, in particular, are dangerous for consumers. The FTC says consumers should ask for identification from anyone who hopes to enter your home, and they should tell you the business they represent and the product they sell. Don’t buy from anyone who can’t do this for you.
No company has a perfect record with consumers. But when people are angry with the companies they’ve hired, they take to review sites to complain. If the internet is filled with nasty comments about the company you’re considering, it’s best to move on.
Danger signs to watch for
Once you’ve settled on a company and a security plan, you’ll set an installation date. When it arrives, you have a few more red flags to watch for. The company you choose should give you a date of installation and a time at which your contractor will show up. In most cases, you’ll need to be there to meet and greet the people who will work on your home.
If someone arrives before the appointed time, you’re not obligated to let that person into your home. And if anything about the person who comes to meet you makes you uncomfortable, call the main office of your security provider and tell them about your concerns. A new technician could be sent to you, or the company could inform you that the person who has arrived isn’t affiliated with the company at all.
Proper contractors will arrive with signals that show you they are trustworthy, such as:
- A uniform. Clothing is a signal of trust. Your technician should be neat, clean and wearing clothing stamped with the logo of the company you’re working with.
- Company identification. Your technician should have some sort of business card or company paperwork that identifies their employment.
- Your contract. You should have a written agreement about what will be installed and how much it will cost. Your contractor should provide that to you on arrival and have you sign it.
- Personal identification. You should know your technician’s full name, and you should have a badge number or employee number to reference if you need it.
There’s no shame in asking for this information when someone arrives on your doorstep and wants to come inside your home. If the person you’re speaking with balks at this request, don’t allow access.
While your contractor needs to show you identification, you don’t need to reciprocate. You aren’t required to provide proof of your name, address, Social Security Number or other personal ID. Beware of contractors that ask for information like this, as they might be hoping to steal your identity.
Supervise your installation
If you’ve worked with contractors before, you might be accustomed to letting workers in and then leaving to go about your everyday business. A security system is a little different. Typically, you’re required to stay home all day long. Your installation will progress in a series of predictable, smooth steps. The contractor will:
- Go over your contract. You’ll discuss any plans you made when you ordered, and you’ll talk about any enhancements you might like to make to the original agreement. You should have a complete understanding of the costs of the system after this conversation.
- Walk through your home. Your technician may have questions about how specific rooms are used or the flow through your house. Those questions help your team to optimize the placement of your equipment. Don’t be surprised if you go through every room together. Your contractor needs to know about everything to do the job well.
- Install the equipment. The type of system you have will help to determine how long the work takes. If you have a wireless system, for example, it might move into your home quicker than a hard-wired one. The number of monitors and cameras can also add time. In general, expect the team to be in your house for a few hours.
- Clean up the work. Drilling holes, snaking wires and other tasks can be messy. Your contractor should clean up any disruption when the system is installed, so you don’t have to do it.
- Demonstrate the system. You may understand the theory behind the equipment you purchased, but it’s different to see all of those tools in your house. Your contractor should go over every feature and function with you.
- Answer your questions. Queries about your bill, your equipment and your security should be asked and answered professionally.
Reputable companies offer customer service departments that can answer any lingering concerns you have after installation day. But during the work, you will have the opportunity to connect with a security professional in person. Take advantage of that time, and make sure you understand how to make the most of your investment.
What to do if something goes wrong
We’ve all been duped from time to time. Thieves can be professional liars, and it’s sometimes difficult to separate those with honest intentions from those who hope to scam you. If you notice something amiss after the installation, get the authorities involved.
If the system doesn’t work as expected, call your company and ask for them to make it right. Perhaps a small fuse or a tiny wire is askew, and with an adjustment, everything will work as expected.
It’s important to note that most installations run smoothly, particularly when consumers work with known companies with a long track record of success. But when it comes to security, it pays to be vigilant. By taking a few extra steps, you’ll ensure that your investment in your home doesn’t result in more hassles for you.
Frequently asked questions
Can fraud happen during installation?
Yes. Thieves can arrive hours or days before the reputable company is scheduled to appear. That gives them time to case your house for valuables. They can install the system improperly, so they can come back later for theft.
What’s the best way to stay safe?
Work with a reputable company that has a good reputation for providing quality work. Ask questions both before and during the installation, and always ask for identification before anyone enters your home.
Do I have to provide my installers with identification?
No. They have to prove their qualifications and relationships, but you don’t.
Can I leave during the installation?
No. You’ll need to walk through your home with the installer, and you’ll need training on how the system works before you can use it.
How long does it take to install a security system?
It depends. In general, plan for the team to remain in your house for the entire day.
Will I have to clean up after them?
No. Professional installers should not leave you with a mess to clean up.
What happens if I spot a problem after installation?
Your technician should give you a number to call if you have problems.