Preventing False Alarms When Others Use Your Security SystemPosted By Michael Goris
Last week, I made a post outlining the alarm registration policy in Pompano Beach, FL. In the post, I referred to a welcome letter that mentions the most common causes of false security system alarms. Today, I want to discuss one listed reason, which is having others use your alarm system.
Anyone who uses a security system should know how to use it responsibly so that false alarms do not occur. This includes users who are not the primary operators of the system. When you have another party operate your system, you are depending on them to not make any mistakes that could lead to a false alarm. Remember, false alarms waste the resources and time of the local authorities, and they can result in fines and penalties that you are held responsible for.
If you ever hire a person who will need to access the premises while you are away and disarm the system, then it is crucial that you do your part and make sure that they know how to use the system properly for basic disarming. This practice can apply to virtually any type of hired hand or assistant, including a maid, a babysitter, a maintenance person, or even a friend who is simply checking on your house while you are on vacation. It may be a good idea to invite them over and show them how to arm and disarm the panel.
Many users will have reservations about leaving a system code with an individual who shouldn't have access to the home all the time. System manufacturers are aware of this concern, and they have implemented a solution. A guest code, which is also sometimes referred to as a babysitter code, is a code that only works when the system is armed with that code. You can give this code to the person who needs to access your home while you are away so that it works during that particular instance, but not on other occasions.
There are some things to keep in mind if you decide to use a guest code with your system. As we mentioned before, the code will only work if it is used to arm the system in the first place. You must remember to use that code to arm on any given day where you are planning to make your home accessible to the other individual. This can be easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of the morning when you are scrambling to get out the door. You might slip up and accidentally arm using your normal code. It can also be a problem if you quick-arm the system without using a code. When quick-arming or single-button arming is used, it is as if the arming was performed by the Master Code. One practice that we have found useful is to leave a sticky note on the panel with the phrase "GUEST CODE". That way, when you arm before leaving, you will know to use the guest code. Obviously, you shouldn't write the actual guest code on the sticky note. But just the message alone will remind you which code to arm with.
The fact that a guest code will only work when it was used to arm the system is a bit of a double-edged sword. If you find out in the middle of the day that you need the other person to access your home, perhaps due to an emergency, and you armed earlier using a different code, then the guest code will not be of any help. A decent work around in that situation is to just disarm using an interactive monitoring platform like Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com. But it can admittedly be a bit cumbersome to require the other person to contact you and wait for you to open the app on your phone and disarm the system. Still, this is a pretty decent option for a system without any other easy solution. You can also rely on an interactive platform entirely and skip out completely on using a guest code. But it can be a bit inconvenient to have to manually disarm every time you need to provide access. That is why many users often prefer using guest codes in these situations.
As a fail-safe, it may be a good idea to discuss a backup plan with the other individual, in case an alarm does occur on the system. You should instruct them not to panic and to call you immediately to let you know what happened. You may want to keep your phone off silent so that you can respond to an incoming call from either the person or the central station. When you get the alert from the person, you will know that the alarm on your system was a mistake, and you will know to respond accordingly. Then when the central station calls, you can give them your false alarm passcode to let them know that everything is okay. Do not give your false alarm passcode to the other individual, unless you completely trust them. But at that point, you may as well give them a fully functional user code instead of a guest code.
One of our main duties as an alarm company is to help our customers prevent false alarms. If you are an Alarm Grid customer, then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to learn more about false alarm prevention. We are happy to give you as much advice as we can for when others use your security system. Remember that we check email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!