Six Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Security Company

Installing and monitoring a security system is an effective way to keep your home, family, property, or business safe. It has been shown statistically that security systems can deter crime, however, the first thing you will want to do is thoroughly check out the Security company you’re thinking of doing business with.  

You can start your “due diligence” by getting answers to these questions:

Is the company you’re considering fully insured? A reputable/reliable security company will have insurance to protect all parties concerned.

Are their installers employees or contractors?  Does the company utilize their own employees, or do they use contracted help? Can they tell you who will be coming out to your home or business to work on your system? If you are having a system installed, the installers will have access to your entire home and its contents, so you want to feel comfortable with that situation. Therefore, you may want to make sure the security company has their own employees and that they go through an extensive background check. Background checks should include a complete criminal history, the sex offender list, and the employee should have multiple references.

Are the company and its employees licensed? In the State of North Carolina, any person, firm, or corporation engaged in an alarm system business needs to be licensed and all service and installation technicians need to be registered.

What is the company’s response time? If you need emergency assistance, or have a question or concern about your security, you shouldn’t have to wait for a response or be delayed in managing it. You want help as soon as possible. Too address this situation, does the company give you a specific contact person and/or is there customer service available 24/7?

How does the company document any security incidents or interactions that require your attention? Be familiar with the company’s policies and practices including logs and written reports. Insurance companies usually require this when you’re working with them on an incident. You should be able to acquire copies of those reports easily and when necessary.

Last but not leastgo over the fine print!  How much will my security system cost? What is the length of the monitoring contract? You will naturally ask these questions but be sure to confirm installation costs vs. product costs, service costs, monitoring fees and any other associated charges. Some companies advertise low-cost package deals but charges are added on during the process. Companies may lock you into long term contracts and you must pay even if you sell your home. Be careful!  

Getting the answers to these questions upfront can save you time, money and more importantly, give you and your family the peace of mind you are looking for.

If you are located here in the Raleigh NC, Apex NC or the Triangle, and looking for help analyzing and determining your security requirements, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Secur-Tek, Inc. is locally owned, and our technicians are employees. We can design and install the right system for your situation in a cost-effective, timely manner.

 

Are You Wasting Money on an Alarm System?

Safety statistics show that having an alarm system can be an effective tool for protecting your family and property from home invasions.

According to the National Council for Home Safety:

When Do They Happen? Burglaries most often occur during the day between 6 am and 6 pm while people are at work or running errands. The seasonality is quite simple as well, with snow and cold being principal deterrents, the lowest number of burglaries happen in February while burglary rates are higher in the summer.

How? Intruders are most attracted to houses that do not have home alarm systems.

  • The national average indicates that homes without a security system are 300% more likely to be burglarized.
  • 85% of convicted burglars said that they specifically look to see if there’s an alarm and that they would leave and target another property where no security system is installed.
  • The F.B.I also reports that 90% of all intrusions occur through doors; 6% occur through windows; 3% occur through the roof and 1% occur through the walls.

Who? Over 85% of thieves are amateurs with 41% saying break-ins are an impulsive decision.

The bottom line is that utilizing a security system on your property will offer an increased level of protection and peace of mind.

HOWEVER – you might be wasting your money on that home alarm system if:

1) You don’t set the alarm. This is understandable — but it can be impacted by the ease and convenience of doing this simple act. Therefore, thinking through your daily routines and researching which system is most compatible with your personality and lifestyle is an important part of choosing the best system for you and your family.

2) You don’t thoroughly understand and learn the proper usage or programming of the alarm system you have purchased. At Secur-Tek, our systems are easy to use, and we take the time to ensure you understand the system’s functionality.

3) You don’t have your installer use windows stickers and signs as a warning. We at Secur-Tek ensure that warning stickers and signs are placed in the optimal locations for good visibility and thus function as a key deterrent.

4) You don’t test the system on a regular basis. At Secur-Tek we only install high-quality security systems and recommend testing every month. It only takes a few minutes to ensure everything is functioning properly. You can find the steps here.

5) Your system isn’t monitored. You may have purchased a home with the alarm system already installed or installed one yourself. Although the noise of an alarm may scare off those who enter your home, it’s vital that you have a company monitor your alarm so that the police can investigate for forced entry. Monitoring is also critical in case of a fire or carbon monoxide leak, especially when your family is sleeping or away.

6) You leave the house with the windows/doors open or unlocked. Windows and back doors are a favorite, especially those left open in the warmer months and obscured by bushes or buildings. Many alarm systems do not go off if someone enters through an open window. If you don’t have a motion detector installed or alarm sensors on the windows, be sure to at least close and lock your windows when you are not home.

When used properly, alarm systems can be a very effective tool in deterring crime and protecting your family and home. We at Secur-Tek, Inc. partner with you to ensure you get the right system for your situation.

Please give us a call at 919.387.1800 or contact us by using the form below for a complimentary in-home consultation.

Secur-Tek, Inc. is locally owned and operated in Apex, NC, offering home and business security and monitoring. Secur-Tek also provides automation, audio, and central vacuum systems to customers in the Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Raleigh, Morrisville, and Pittsboro areas.

Five Reasons to Install an Access Control System

 

If you are a commercial property owner, or responsible for controlling building access, you may be looking for ways to increase convenience while protecting business assets and employees.

Installing an access control system can reduce security risk. Most structures – commercial, business, and private have certain parts of the building where restricted access is desired. With access control, there is an array of system options so you can choose one that fits your specific needs.

Some of the specific benefits offered by these systems are detailed below:

 1) Protect Valuables

Does your building contain valuables? This is especially important for items that are easily transported, sold, or “fenced”. With controlled access keycards, you can identify who enters the space day or night. This information can help prevent items from going missing and help catch a guilty individual if this occurs.

 2) Control and Track Employee Access

What happens when an employee is fired or quits? With access control systems in place, the card or code they used to access the building or certain areas can be changed/deleted with ease, so they can no longer enter that space. You do not have to collect door keys from an exiting employee and there is no need to pay a locksmith to rekey the doors. With an access control system your property and personnel are protected from any unwanted intrusions.

3) Control Specific Access to Certain Areas at Specific Times

For most structures, every individual who enters doesn’t necessarily need to have access to every office, inventory/records room, lab, equipment/storage area, or even floor. For example, a business’s accounting department may have highly sensitive/confidential information that most people should not have access to.

In this case, an access control system is invaluable. It allows managers or owners to restrict access to those who should not be able to enter these areas. Another example could be maintenance or janitorial staff, who work at certain times and on certain days. You can program your access control system to restrict their access times to when they are scheduled to be there.

 4) Monitor Who is Coming and Going

With access control systems, you can have a full report of every door that opens for all areas throughout your building. You can check on who is accessing certain parts of the building and when they do it. If there is ever a dispute about something, you can easily pull up this information to help figure out what happened. You can also use the system to track employee’s worktime.

5) Remote Control

Secur-Tek systems make it possible for you to control the locks in your buildings using a smart device (i.e. tablet, phone, etc.). With this type of system in place, you can easily let a trusted individual in without having to meet them on location, or lockdown the buildings if an emergency occurs. This technology also allows you to add or remove credentials as needed.

 If you have responsibility for a structure and the safety of the people and items it contains, installing an access control system will be beneficial.

If you have further questions or are interested in having an access control system installed, please contact us at 919-387-1800 or check out our Access Control Webpage.

We will work with you to customize your access control system, so it is the most effective and cost-efficient for your unique structure and situation.

Should You Have Your Home Security System Monitored? Seven Things to Consider

 

We often find ourselves dealing with change:

  • Moving into a new home and neighborhood
  • Completing a home renovation project
  • Upgrading our home’s technology — smart feature, entertainment or home security
  • Personal or family changes — like seniors coming to live with you or adding a pet to the family

And when you’re dealing with the changes, you may find yourself wondering, should I have my security system monitored? If so, taking the time to clarify and think through your security situation will help you make an informed decision.

 

 Seven questions to ask when determining your home security needs:

  • Do you have children, seniors or pets that are left alone during the day? What are their ages and how self-sufficient are they? Have you ever found yourself worrying about them or their safety while you are away?
  • Has your job status or personal situation changed so you find you must travel more and spend time away from your home?
  • Have you acquired any new expensive jewelry, electronics, or family heirlooms that would be difficult to replace?
  • Do you work more than 20 – 30 minutes away from your home, making it more difficult to run home to check on things?
  • Home location – does your landscaping hide your home or is it visible from the street? Are you near major roads with lots of easy accessibility?
  • What kind of security does your neighborhood have? Police presence? Gated community? ACTIVE neighborhood watch?
  • Do you have a pool, fireplace or fire pit?

If you find yourself worrying about any of these situations, here’s what monitoring can do for you. While deterring burglars or prowlers may seem like the main function of monitoring your house, there are also other critical aspects that monitoring offers. The key to minimizing loss of property or helping individuals in need is quick response time. Fire detection, heat sensors, air quality as well as senior/child/pet alert systems can keep a potential bad home situation from turning into a disaster.

So why monitor your home if there is an alarm installed?

The typical system will have a siren go off for approximately five minutes after it is tripped. If monitored and there is no emergency in progress, the alarm can be canceled by giving the monitoring station your password. If a burglar or prowler trips the alarm, they usually leave the premise quickly. In many cases, the intruder will then hide and watch to see if there is any activity in the home, or if police/people arrive. If so, they typically will leave quickly to focus their efforts on an easier target — a non-monitored home.

Low-voltage smoke detectors connected to your monitored alarm system give quicker responses to fires — much better than relying on someone possibly noticing smoke from your house and reacting to it.

Pro Tip: If you are away and unable to respond to an alarm, it is a good idea to have a relative, trusted neighbor, or friend know the code and meet the emergency responders if the alarm is tripped. They can let the police in and check to make sure nothing is missing.

Finally, you might want to consider this – monitoring isn’t just to alert the police or fire departments. It is there for you and your family’s peace of mind.  

            True Protection — Some homeowners assume a burglar alarm making a lot of noise is enough protection. In truth, like car alarms, home alarms are often ignored by people nearby, who assume it is going off by accident.

            Other Home Issues – While not as urgent as a fire or break-in, a gas leak can cause serious problems in your home. Monitoring systems can be set up to alert you in case of a gas leak or to let you know your freezer is no longer on — indicating a power outage.

            Assistance — Monitoring systems can also notify people that you need assistance in case of a fall or other personal accident.

            Sleeping Easy — Monitoring means someone is always keeping an eye (and ear) on your home. Many security system clients say knowing someone is there offers peace of mind, making it easier to sleep at home and while away.

Bottom Line: While there is a monthly cost to monitor your home, only monitored systems have professionals to help respond to emergencies 24/7. Once you assess your lifestyle, property parameters and situation, you may see that monitoring is the right choice for you. But please be sure to always read the contract you are signing carefully to ensure you are getting the exact coverage you require for the price you deem expectable.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your security system needs, please don’t hesitate to call us!

8 Tips for Package Theft Prevention

Will you be receiving packages this holiday season?

Packages left on the porch/mailbox are vulnerable at any time of year, but the holiday season usually means there are a few more parcels arriving at your doorstep. A study from InsuranceQuotes that examines holiday hazards  notes there were approximately 26 million thefts of deliveries from doorsteps and economic indicators show online shopping is up over 28% so far for this holiday season over last year.

Whether you’re ordering gifts online for family and friends, or receiving them from others, you’re more likely to have packages sitting vulnerable on your porch this time of the year.

To prevent your deliveries being stolen, check out these EightTips for Package Theft Prevention. 

  1. Customize delivery. If the ordering system allows you to choose the time of delivery, select a time you know you’ll be at home.
  2. Get a smart doorbell.Swap your current doorbell for a Skybell and enjoy a higher level of safety and security with remote monitoring and cloud recording features. When the delivery person rings the doorbell, you can see how and when packages are delivered. No more interruptions during family dinner or missing important packages while you’re gone! You can also check for unwanted visitors at your doorstep.
  3. Deliver decisively. If you’re not home much, consider having the package delivered to your office or a friend or neighbor’s house for safekeeping.
  4. Hold the post. If your package contains very valuable items – Have the post office or carrier hold the package. Request UPS, FedEx and the Postal Service to hold packages at their facility for you to pick up later. UPS has created a service called Access Point that enables you to choose an alternate delivery location in your neighborhood.
  5. Alert a neighbor. When you are expecting a package and won’t be home, you can ask a neighbor or friend to keep an eye out for it. If you use Nextdoor.com or a similar neighborhood app you can let neighbors know if something has been stolen from your porch so they can keep an eye out and report suspicious behavior.
  6. Talk to family and friends who may be mailing your holiday gifts. Ask them to let you know when they send packages so you can watch for them.
  7. Light it up. Install outdoor lights. Your package is more likely to be stolen during daylight hours, but night falls early this time of year. Outdoor lights with motion or light sensors are a good way to keep unwanted people away from your home in any season.
  8. Monitored home security A home security system can do a great deal. If there are visible security features like cameras or alarms, potential thieves will be more likely to move along to a less protected house rather than risk getting caught by a security system. And you can even tie in your Skybell with security and automation features for greater convenience, like letting in out of town guests that arrive when you’re out doing those last-minute errands.

If you are going out of town, check out our Security Checklist before you leave.

We hope you have a great holiday season. If you’d like a quote on Skybell or would like to learn about other home Security System options to increase your peace of mind, please contact us.

 Happy Holidays to You and Your Family!!

Frequently Asked Questions on Home Security Systems

FAQs on Home Security

Do you have questions about home security systems?  We asked our staff to answer some of our customer’s frequently asked questions – check the answers below.  

How often should I test my home security system?  We recommend you test your system once a month.

How do I test my monitored home security system? I don’t want to bother the police. We are glad you asked that!  First, call the 800 number on your sticker and tell the monitoring company to put your system on test, then activate your alarm and call monitoring company back to verify alarm signals were received.   

Who do I call for service on my Secur-Tek system? To set up a service call, please call our office at  919.387.1800. Secur-Tek stands by our products and the same reliable technicians install and service our systems.

Can Secur-Tek upgrade my system?  Yes, but it does depend on the type of system you have. If you have a Honeywell home security system, we can upgrade your system by adding remote monitoring, cameras, and gas, smoke and motion detectors. If you have another type of system, we still may be able to help you, just call for a consultation or contact us.

How many cameras are needed to have a complete home security system?  The number of cameras you may need to safeguard your home depends on your home design. We can add cameras to most security systems and offer a complimentary consultation where we take a look around your home and recommend how many cameras are needed and the locations to install them.

Should I have my home security system monitored?  Having and monitoring a home security system can increase your peace of mind, especially if you travel or have valuable items in your home. For more information, see our blog on monitoring.

How much does monitoring cost?  We offer reliable, low-cost monthly monitoring. Our monitoring starts at $21.95 for standard monitoring and $31.95 for cellular.

Do you require a three-year contract?  No.

How long is the monitoring agreement?  Our monitoring contracts are just for 1 year. We don’t require long-term contracts.

Can I monitor my security system myself?  We don’t recommend it. Our monitoring goes to a company that provides monitoring 24/7 and will contact the police, fire and medical emergency agencies. They are always there to call the authorities.

What type of remote services work with your home security systems?  You can view and run your system from your smartphone or iPad with Honeywell Total Connect Services.  

What types of systems are compatible with Secur-Tek’s low-cost monitoring?  We can monitor many types of systems. To determine if your specific system can be monitored, please call your office.

We hope you found this helpful. If you live in our service area and have further questions, would like an estimate on upgrading or monitoring your security system, please give us a call at  919.387.1800

Secur-Tek, Inc. serves all of Central NC, including the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, Apex, Cary, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Pittsboro, Wake County, Chatham County, Durham County, Orange County, Harnett County.

To Monitor or Not Monitor – That is the Question

 

People often ask: If I have a security system with an alarm, why should I pay to have it monitored? There are many things to consider when determining if you need a security system and if it should be monitored. Taking the time to clarify your security situation and needs is essential for making an informed decision.

These variables should be considered when determining your security needs:

  • Do you have valuables such as jewelry, paintings, or irreplaceable family heirlooms in your home?
  • How about children, seniors or pets that are left alone during the day?
  • Do you travel frequently – for how long – is your workplace more than a 30 minute commute?
  • What are the physical properties of your home – do you have lots of bushes and trees or high visibility?
  • Are you near high traffic areas; do you have police patrolling?
  • Do you have a pool, fireplace or fire pit?

What monitoring does – While keeping burglars or prowlers out of your house and off your property is critical, minimizing loss through quick response time, fire detection, heat sensors, air quality and other features is also a great benefit.

How monitoring actually works – Basically, when your alarm is triggered, it sends a coded signal to the monitoring center. The security company will call your agreed upon pre-set number and ask for the password you have set – if they get no answer or the person doesn’t know the password, the police are immediately contacted. If a fire, flooding or air poisoning is detected the same routine is followed.

So why monitor your home if you have an alarm already installed?

The typical system will have a siren go off for approximately five minutes after it is tripped. If monitored and there is no emergency in progress, the alarm can be cancelled by giving the monitoring station your password. If a burglar or prowler trips the alarm, they usually leave the premise quickly. In many cases, the intruder will then hide and watch to see if there is any activity in the home, or if police/people arrive. If so, they typically will leave quickly to focus their efforts on an easier target — a non-monitored home

Low-voltage smoke detectors connected to your monitored alarm system give quicker response to smoke in your home than a neighbor seeing the flames shooting thru your roof — when it is too late to save your property or maybe someone’s life.

Tip: If you are away and unable to respond to an alarm, it is a good idea to have a relative, trusted neighbor, or friend know the code and meet the emergency responders if the alarm is tripped. They can let the police in and check to make sure nothing is missing; but are not to enter before the authorities arrive for their safety.

While there is a monthly cost to monitor your home or business, only monitored systems have professionals to help respond to emergencies 24/7. Once you assess your lifestyle, property parameters and situation, you may see that monitoring is the right choice for you.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your security system needs, please don’t hesitate to call us!

Can Your Devices Spy on You? Tips for Stronger Security and Privacy

Smartphones, apps, and devices such as Amazon’s Alexa/Echo and Google’s Home are all making our lives easier (or at least more fun). After all, you can play games, check the weather, see what your friends are up to, and go shopping, track packages, and set reminders — all with the click of a button or a voice command.

But the more devices we allow into our lives, the more we increase our security risk. Many of our home security customers are asking about security and privacy. Here are some ways to protect yourself:

Smartphones
Some people don’t mind digital eavesdropping. Others would prefer Facebook not to listen in all the time, which it does. If this bothers you, the best thing to do is uninstall the app completely. However, you can also disable any app’s use of your microphone using the following steps:

iPhones/Apple:
● Go to “settings”
● Choose the app you want to change
● Turn off the microphone

Android
● Go to “settings” and select “personal”
● Choose “privacy”
● Then choose “permissions”
● Finally, choose “microphone” and turn it off

Home Devices
Home devices such as Google’s Home or Amazon’s Alexa/Echo record conversations after you activate them with the code words, “Ok Google” or “Hey Alexa.” They listen for your voice query, then upload it to servers, where it is analyzed so the appropriate response can be delivered. While the data passed between the device and the servers is encrypted, there are some other security concerns, including:

● The microphones are always listening unless you mute them.
● The devices don’t differentiate between people, meaning someone else can use your voice device to make changes to your security system if you have that set up.
● The recorded voice queries are stored on cloud servers. That data is used to create more targeted advertising.
● Your device’s location is shared.
● Data may be shared with third parties.

Using these devices means sharing your information. But you can make some small adjustments to make them slightly more private:

● Mute them when not in use. On the Echo, a physical mute button is located at the top of the device. On Google Home, use the touch panel on top to mute.
● Delete old recordings. For Echo, you do this through your Amazon account. Click “Manage my device” to delete your history. Note: Amazon warns this will result in a lower-quality experience. For Google, go to the My Activity dashboard to manage everything.
● Don’t connect sensitive accounts to home devices.

Home security questions? Contact us to learn how we can make your home more secure.

Save Lives by Checking Smoke Alarms this Month

49370576 - replacing battery in domestic smoke alarmIf a fire broke out in your home, when do you think that would happen? If you guessed “at night,” you’re right. In fact, half of all fire deaths are reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep.

Three out of five home fire deaths happen from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. In other words, smoke alarms save lives.

The second week of October is Fire Prevention Week, and it’s a good time to check your smoke alarm. When smoke alarms fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are missing, disconnected, or dead. When was the last time you checked your alarm?

Maybe you removed the battery to quiet the alarm last time your oven started smoking while you cooked dinner. Although smoke alarms can be annoying sometimes, that’s the point — you want it to wake you up in an emergency.

Here are three important steps to take to make sure your alarm is ready to save your family:

1. Change the battery. Many people have heard to change the batteries each time we spring forward or fall back for Daylight Saving Time. That’s coming up Nov. 6, so head to the store to buy some new batteries.

2. Check the date. While you’re on the ladder or stepstool changing the battery, be sure to also check the date on the alarm. Many people don’t know that smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. If you have lived in your home fewer than 10 years, you may not know how old the device is. To find out, pull the alarm off the ceiling and look at the back. You’ll see a date of manufacture. If your alarm was manufactured before October 2006, it’s time for a new one.

3. Test the alarm. Once you have fresh batteries and have confirmed the alarm is still within the 10-year mark, it’s time to test it. To test, press and hold the test button. It can take a few seconds to begin, but the loud noise should screech out from the smoke detector while the button is pressed. If there is no sound or the sound is weak and you just put in new batteries, replace the device immediately.

Once you’ve finished checking your smoke alarm, be sure to test your security system, which can also help alert authorities in case of fire. For more information on how to do that, check out our recent blog post on the topic.

Avoid Disaster by Testing Your Home Security System

14260888 - home security alarm monitorYour home security system is armed and keeping your home protected — right? But what if a burglar invades your home while you are on vacation and the alarm goes off, but doesn’t alert police or fire? The loud alarm will scare the burglar into quick departure, but the police will not realize the emergency unless your neighbors call.

Why Test Your Security System

While home security systems and their technology are impressive, anything can happen to an electronic device, especially one that runs 24 hours a day. Lightning and power surges can cause problems. Plus, phone, cable, and Internet service providers are always upgrading their lines and equipment. If you have something replaced or changed, or you see digging in your neighborhood, you might later find your system no longer works.

Some homeowners do not arm their systems each day and may not realize something is wrong. Even if you arm the system, you will not be able to tell if the connection to monitoring services is working. That means you won’t know your system doesn’t work until it’s too late.

How Often to Test

Secur-Tek engineers recommend testing your system each month to make sure everything is in order. In addition, if you have crews working in or around your house, it’s important to test the system before they start and after they are done. Even if your Internet provider is “just replacing your modem,” accidents happen. Newer security systems are programmed to send in a monthly test. If you aren’t sure whether your system does this, ask your Secur-Tek team.

How To Test

To test your home security system, call the central station or the office and ask for a test. They will instruct you to arm the system and open up a door so the alarm goes off. They will then verify the signal was received. The test takes less than 10 minutes.

Other Tips

Security systems provide peace of mind and alert emergency personnel when needed, but only if they work — and only if they are armed. We often hear from clients who forgot to turn on the system because they do not use it frequently. Less frequent use also means more false alarms. Once you install a security system, use it every day to get into the habit. It will seem like part of your routine in no time.

Finally, don’t forget to check the fine print on your security contract. Many security providers with monitoring require a three-year or five-year contract and some automatically renew. Review your contract so you know when it expires and when you need to cancel. Contact your Secur-Tek team with any questions.

Security & Home Automation