How to make sure you don't overpay for your home alarm system

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - Burglars broke into more than 2,400 Houston homes in 2014 and detectives say your best chance of catching crooks is capturing them on high-quality surveillance video. Even if you don't go that far, home security alarms can also deter burglars.

But Gabriel Eid of iTech Monitoring in Conroe says you have to ask the right questions to find the right security company. Eid said you should make sure the company is licensed and insured in the state of Texas.

Every alarm company in Texas and all of the employees must be licensed with the state. They should carry the license issued by the Department of Public Safety. You should ask to see it and don't settle for just company identification. You can also look up the name of any alarm company or employee online to make sure that they are licensed and bonded in Texas.

Be sure to ask who will be monitoring your alarm, too. Many times it is another company in another city of state. You want to make sure that the alarm company is not outsourcing these jobs overseas and that the monitoring company is UL-certified.

Eid said when companies offer you free installation, your monthly fee is often more to make up that cost, and you will likely be locked into a long-term contract.

"Understand what you're signing (and) how long it's for," said Eid. "And understand that you're not really getting it for free. You're going to pay for it over time."

Lastly, be wary of the home alarm salesmen who go door-to-door. Many of these people are working for multiple companies and you won't necessarily know who you're doing business with until you get your bill.

"They may be selling you to one of a handful of companies out there," Eid said. "Some of the companies are way less known. Some of them are very well-known companies."

If you do sign a contract with someone who came to your home, by law you have three days to cancel that contract.

To check whether an alarm company is licensed in Texas, please click here.

To check whether a salesperson or installer is licensed in Texas, please click here. 

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