Alarm companies have to be licensed by most states: that is just a fact, and the intent is to protect you, the consumer. Think of licensing as another way to tell the good guys from the bad guys.
Requirements may include fingerprinting, background checks, documented experience in the industry (and a clean complaint record), and even technical proficiency exams.
There is no federal alarm license that works across the US – that would be too easy! No such luck… alarm company licensing varies by state, by county, and even by city or town – and it’s a serious issue, with big fines and even possible jail time for companies who are serious offenders. Worst of all for home security customers: working with an unlicensed alarm company or having a non-registered alarm system could mean the police or fire department won’t respond to an alarm at your home. Plus, you could be fined as well – that’s why this is such an important topic.
Thousands of US alarm companies operate close to home: a much smaller number are larger regional companies (operating in two to four states), and only a handful are truly nationwide providers. And, the licensing requirements do not stop at the state level. Maryland is a great example: there is a statewide company alarm license, and most of Maryland’s counties require an additional company license, and even a few cities have their own licensing requirement for alarm companies. Most Maryland counties also require the end-user to obtain an alarm permit for an annual fee, and here’s how one requirement can lead to another:
- The police won’t go when called by the monitoring center unless there is a subscriber permit number on file – and you (the subscriber) may be fined.
- You cannot get an end-user alarm permit unless your alarm company holds a local alarm license.
- Your alarm company cannot get a local alarm license unless it holds a state license first.
You can see how it all cascades from the state to the locality to the end-user, with serious repercussions for you.
What Can You Do?
- Any time you are talking to an alarm company, ask them about their licensing status – both state and local. In many states, any alarm employee coming to your home or business is required to carry an ID card issued by the state or company, often with a photo.
- You can also go on-line in many states and check on the status of a company, through the state’s consumer protection or professional licensing division.
- If there is any question about the need for an end-user permit for your system, check with your local police department: there is often a False Alarm Reduction Unit (FARU) that handles these permits.
- While you are at it, make sure you have all the information on false alarm fines. Many jurisdictions have an escalating fine structure for repeat offenders – and you want to avoid those. One more reason to pick a good alarm company!
By the way, we have created an easy link to the state alarm licensing information for FrontPoint Security. As a leader in interactive, wireless home security, we are one of only nine truly nationwide providers: we have worked hard to be the most compliant alarm company across the US, and our efforts are paying off! Click here for FrontPoint’s licensing status in your state.