What Exactly is a Duress Code and a Verbal Duress Code?
A duress code and a verbal duress code are both ways of letting a central station operator know that help is needed immediately. However, they are different from an alarm because the system will be disarmed, no alarm event will be displayed, and no siren will activate on the system.
Both duress codes and verbal duress codes are secret passwords that allow a user to request emergency help, without necessarily letting an intruder know that the police are on their way. This can be extremely useful in a hostage situation where a criminal is demanding that the user disarm their system. When used properly, a duress code or a verbal duress code can truly be a life-saving tool. However, it is very important that a duress code or a verbal duress code is never used incorrectly, as doing so will cause a false alarm. But remember, a duress code or a verbal duress code will only work if the system is covered by a central monitoring station. This requires an appropriate alarm monitoring plan.
The difference between a duress code and a verbal duress code is that a duress code is an actual code for disarming the system, while a verbal duress code is a spoken passphrase that is provided while on the phone with an operator from a central monitoring station. A duress code will disarm the system, but it will also send out a silent alert to the central station to send immediate police dispatch. On the other hand, when a verbal duress password is provided to a central station operator, they will hang up the phone immediately and send police dispatch to the property.
There are many situations that may warrant the use of a duress code or a verbal duress code. For example, an intruder with a weapon catches an alarm user as they are entering the building. They force their way in with that person and demand that the alarm user disarm. The user can disarm using their duress code, rather than their normal code. The system will disarm as usual, but it will silently alert the monitoring station that this is a "Disarm Under Duress". The monitoring station will immediately send authorities.
Or imagine the same scenario, but the intruder doesn't allow the user to disarm the system in time. As a result, the alarm goes off. The intruder knows that the alarm company will be calling, so they tell you to tell the operator that everything is fine. Instead of providing the usual "Everything is Alright" passcode, you provide the secret verbal duress code. The operator will then hang up as if everything is alright, but they will immediately send the authorities.
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