It is time for another debunking post! Today we will be tackling to topic of, what happens on the other end of your professionally monitored system?
A couple of weeks ago, I was scrolling the my Neighborhood app and reading the posts of my neighbors. My eye was caught by one post asking for recommendations on a home security system. Of course, I recommended letting SAFE Solutions come out and talk with them about it. However, a couple of comments down, a fellow neighbor comments “You really shouldn’t go with professionally monitored. Who knows what they will do with the information and that gives so many people access to your cameras!” Honestly, that moment is where the idea for this “mythbusting series” was born. At SAFE Solutions, we are in the business of making people feel safe. So knowing people are selecting the less safe DIY options because they don’t trust that we are taking their privacy very seriously, just did not sit well with me!
So that brings us to the topic, who are the people monitoring your systems and what access do they actually have?
To start, you should know that there are several companies that provide monitoring services that we can entrust our clients with. We are approached by representatives of these companies often, trying to convince us to let them take care of our clients. Reputation, company history, employee screening process, and accuracy are just the few of the points we research in our search for the right company to use. It isn’t a decision that we made quickly or lightly.
- How does SAFE Solutions choose a monitoring company (Central Station) to use for their customers?
- “Excellent and ongoing subscriber service is essential, we ask questions about monitor training, quality-control programs, staffing levels and the central-station infrastructure, including where its back-up facilities are located because having them too close or too far away is not smart planning. This will gives us a good idea about that company’s ability to provide the mission-critical task of monitoring our customers’ alarm systems.”
- Does the Central Station have the highest industry rated credentials? (I.E. TMA 5 Diamond Central Monitoring Station, TMA certified operators, UL Certified, FM Approved, Intertek Listed, etc.)
- TMA Five Diamond Central Monitoring Station – https://tma.us/csaa-five-diamond-program/ – granted annually to monitoring companies that satisfy all of the requirements of the five points of excellence:
- Commitment to random inspections and quality criteria standards by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as FM Approvals, Intertek/ETL and UL.
- Commitment to the highest levels of customer service.
- Commitment to ongoing job-related education and testing by having 100% of its central station operators certified using the TMA online training series.
- Commitment to raising the industry standards through TMA membership and participation in its activities.
- Commitment to reducing false dispatches.
- UL Certified – https://www.ul.com/resources/central-station-service-certification
- Does the Central Station offer us multiple platforms for monitoring different alarm systems with the newest state of the art receiver technology? (I.E. Alarm.com, Total Connect, Securenet, Telguard, M2M, Connect24, Uplink, Alula, etc.)
- Does the Central Station have a reputation for honesty, efficiency, providing good monitoring service, keeping good records and being responsive to the dealer when necessary?
- Does the Central Station carry industry accepted errors and omissions insurance?
- Is the Central Station a local company providing monitoring to dealers only in its geographic area, or a nationwide monitoring company?
- Does the Central Station offer access to accounts online as well as through mobile phone or tablet?
- Does the Central Station offer integrations with any Alarm Industry CRM or alarm platform tools?
The list of points and questions is a pretty hefty one as you can see! Again, not a light decision for us.
NEXT, let’s talk about who gets to see the information being monitored:
- Can anyone at the central station access my information at any time?
- From the SAFE Solutions standpoint, only our company authorized representatives can access information related to your alarm system with authorization of our dealer codes or approved CRM credentials. These individuals have been screened for background checks, and are licensed with the State of Texas Department of Public Safety Private Security Bureau. All changes to account information and access activity are tracked and monitored. For more about what is required of your installer, see our blog on what it takes to legally operate a security installation business in Texas here: https://safesolutions.us/mythbustingepisodeone/
- From the Central Station standpoint, ONLY TMA approved operators can access information during an alarm to verify signals or when contacted directly by the consumer with the authorization of the approved verbal pass code or by the dealer with authorization of our dealer codes. Any changes are documented and updated for the client.
And FINALLY, what can they really see?
- What exactly do they have access to?
- From the SAFE Solutions, installers are able to setup all information in an account on day 1. Once that account is active, any subsequent service calls limit the information to that specific service request such as Name, Address, Phone Number, Date/Time of Appointment, and the reason for the call. Any changes to information beyond the scope of their service call will require confirmation with our home office, client and central station to ensure the information is accurate. This includes alarm zone changes (adding, removing, renaming), contact list updates, verbal pass code updates, and more. We receive daily alarm reports to review in the event an alarm went off so we can review if there are any client issues or concerns, the amount of time it took for dispatch to respond or notify the client and authorities, as well as manually pull the reports if there was cause for concern or need for your insurance in the event there is an actual break-in, fire or other alarm event.
- From the Central Station standpoint, operators answering the alarm call receive the alarm zone number and description, time of the incident, and call list with the order in which to call with the verbal pass code needed to disregard or cancel a police, fire, or medical dispatch. Operators notate the time of the call, along with any notes and this information is generated into a daily report and emailed to us for review. If there are any issues during the time of the incident or information does not match, the operator will reach out to us directly to correct the situation.
Typically, I would have taken the amount of information in this post and found a way to break it down into a couple of shorter posts. However, I feel it is important to show just how much detail and thought goes into our choices for who we to allow to take care of our customers. I hope in reading this you can see the care and consideration we put into this decision. We expect all involved in taking care of our clients to have the high standards we offer, always.