Tips & Tricks: What is the Duress Code (and what does it do)?

Posted by , , at 10:06 am

Imagine a scary situation in which an intruder follows you into your home and forces you to disarm your system. (We told you the situation was scary.)

While such a traumatic situation may sound hopeless, a duress code allows you to signal for help, unbeknownst to the intruder. It is a 4-digit “false” code that you can input into the system to alert the monitoring station of the situation.

Upon entering the duress code, the system appears to disarm normally, so the intruder is none the wiser. In the meantime, the monitoring station contacts the local authorities for dispatch without calling you to verify, potentially tipping off the burglar.

We really hope you never have to use a duress code, but setting one up is simple and could pay dividends, plus provide increased peace of mind. To create a duress code on your Control Panel:

  1. With the Control Panel disarmed, press the “down” arrow until you see “System Programming” on the screen. Press “OK.”
  2. Enter your 4-digit primary user code, then press “OK.”
  3. You will see “Access Codes” on the screen. Press “OK.”
  4. Press the  “up” arrow once. You will see “Duress Code” on the screen. Press “OK.”
  5. You will see the default duress code “– –“ flashing. Enter your new 4-digit duress code. The code must be four digits and can’t be “0000.” Press “OK” when finished.
  6. Press the “Status” button three times.

If you have any questions or run into any issues setting up your duress code, give us a call at 877-602-5276 and one of the members of our Customer Support Team will be happy to assist you.

Comments (107)

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  1. Lauren

    How do I setup a duress code on the new touchscreen panel?

    • Katie Rynex

      You can always call our Support Team and they will be happy to walk you through the setup of your duress code!

    • Joe

      Can you please clarify when setting an Alarm Notification if the Duress Code will generate a Notification? Adding the Notification lists the following warning:

      “Warning: Do not choose to send a Duress Panic SMS or push notification to a potential Duress Code user.”

      So how do I “not choose” to send a Duress SMS push, there is no apparent distinction between this and an audible or silent alarm in the Notification settings. Thanks

      • Katie Rynex

        Joe, we are going to have one of our Support Specialists reach out to you shortly to help you with those Notifications. Thanks for reaching out and we look forward to speaking with you soon!

  2. Chris

    My husband set off our alarm when leaving the house and I entered my duress code by accident to disarm the system. The police were dispatched so I know the system works. Still it was a mistake. Now my mobile phone still shows that a Duress signal was sent… Red triangle with an exclamation point followed by the word Duress. How do I clear that off of my phone?

    • Katie Rynex

      Chris, great question! To clear that Duress notification off your phone, simply log onto your myfrontpoint.com account. Once you are logged in there should be a red box, with a button, at the top of your summary page which allows you to clear that notification. We hope this answers your question and ask that you please let us know if you have any other questions in the future!

  3. Andy

    I’m still somewhat confused by the Duress code and mobile alerts. If I set an Alarm event to alert my phone will the duress code also do that?

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hi Andy, the duress code will not send a notification to your phone. The code is designed to be a last resort that would send for help without tipping off the burglars. If they got their hands on your phone, they’d be able to see if any notifications came through, and we don’t want that.

      Let me know if you need more clarification!

  4. Trish

    Does the duress code also take pictures when entered

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hi Trish, no pictures are taken when entering the duress code.

  5. John Farmer

    I plan to create a duress code for our system. When logged into Myfrontpoint in the Alarm Notification area, the following warning appears relating to duress code users.
    Warning: Do not choose to send a Duress Panic SMS or push notification to a potential Duress Code user. I can understand why you wouldn’t want to get a text message when using the duress code. What do you do to ensure this won’t happen?

  6. John Farmer

    The two following responses appear to contradict each other. Could you verify which one is correct?

    o Gilbert Cho
    – Oct. 22, 2014 at 2:41 PM
    Yup! The duress code will still work even when your system is disarmed and the authorities will be notified.

    o Jamie Botzer
    – Oct. 13, 2014 at 9:19 AM
    Kim, the Duress Code does not work if the system is unarmed.

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hi John, the duress code will indeed work, even if your system is disarmed. However, in these situations, I recommend using the panic button on your Control Panel, unless of course, you have no other choice.

      Great catch, I’ll go ahead and update the information in that comment.

      • John Farmer

        Mr. Cho, Thanks for the prompt update!

  7. Andy

    I forgot that I had set up the Duress code when I first set up the alarm. I made it the same as my phone pin so I could remember it. Unfortunately, when were having construction at the house for a few months I stopped using the control pad and armed and disarmed from my cell phone. Then after construction I forgot my regular code and inadvertently typed in my phone pin which was the duress code.

    My cell phone indicated that the duress code was used. (Not sure if that is good or not). By the I realized what I had done the police were outside my house.
    For whatever it’s worth:
    I guess the moral of the story is don’t get so used to the cell phone disarming that you forget your real code.

  8. MaRK

    Excellent article and great to know about this feature of the system, but the article absolutely should have said not to test this out without FrontPoint knowing. I set up the code, and in wanting to know it worked, I tested it out. And then realized I had no way of knowing if a duress code had gone out. So I immediately called FrontPoint and fortunately they were able to call off the dispatch of the cops in time. However, it never should have gotten to that point. The article should have stated not to test this out without FrontPoint aware of the test. The person at FrontPoint I just spoke to who called off the dispatch said I should not have tested it without FrointPoint being aware, so the article certainly have included that.

    • Jamie Botzer

      Great suggestion Mark! I’ll update the post so this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

  9. hongwen

    A question:
    If my alarm system is not armed, i.e., I stayed at home, if I punch in the Duress Code, will it also send silent alarm to the monitoring service?
    Thanks,

    • Gilbert Cho

      Yup! The duress code will still work even when your system is disarmed and the authorities will be notified. However, please remember that the duress code should only be used as a last resort. If you’re in trouble and have the chance, please use the panic button instead.

      Let us know if you have any other questions!

  10. hongwen

    A question:
    If my alarm system is not armed, i.e., I stayed at home, if I punch in the Duress Code, will it also send silent alarm to the monitoring service?
    Thanks,

    • Gilbert Cho

      Yup! The duress code will still work even when your system is disarmed and the authorities will be notified. However, please remember that the duress code should only be used as a last resort. If you’re in trouble and have the chance, please use the panic button instead.

      Let us know if you have any other questions!

  11. Dorothy Russell

    Thank you so much for the info. Especially since the CDT will be ending soon and it will be after dark when I return home in the evening.

  12. Dorothy Russell

    Thank you so much for the info. Especially since the CDT will be ending soon and it will be after dark when I return home in the evening.

  13. Nick

    Thank you – I’ve been meaning to call up customer support to figure out how to set this up, but just haven’t had time.

    I was going to ask if there are any “best practices” regarding what code you should use. I’d imagine a lot of people are making it “1-2-3-4” or one number four times like “5-5-5-5” because they’re easy to remember. But I’d also imagine that could tip off an intruder.

    I like the idea of reversing your normal code because it’s something you can remember, but it’s random enough to seem like it’s the real code. I think the person who mentioned this is maybe thinking of that ATM rumor that was going around that supposedly any ATM in the United States was set to treat your PIN reversed as a duress code for the police. This turned out to be false.

    Thanks again!

    • Gilbert Cho

      You’re quite welcome Nick! Glad this could help.

      To answer your question, using an easy-to-remember code should be perfectly fine. Considering the circumstances in which you would use the duress code, you want something you can clearly remember. The downside of an easy code is that if you have children that like to press buttons, there’s the tiny possibility of them setting off a false alarm.

      Most burglars probably won’t be tipped off by an easy code, but it’s a valid concern. I’d choose a code that has a variety of different numbers, but is something easy to remember – like a birth year or credit card PIN number.

      Hope this helps and thanks for the comment!

  14. Nick

    Thank you – I’ve been meaning to call up customer support to figure out how to set this up, but just haven’t had time.

    I was going to ask if there are any “best practices” regarding what code you should use. I’d imagine a lot of people are making it “1-2-3-4” or one number four times like “5-5-5-5” because they’re easy to remember. But I’d also imagine that could tip off an intruder.

    I like the idea of reversing your normal code because it’s something you can remember, but it’s random enough to seem like it’s the real code. I think the person who mentioned this is maybe thinking of that ATM rumor that was going around that supposedly any ATM in the United States was set to treat your PIN reversed as a duress code for the police. This turned out to be false.

    Thanks again!

    • Gilbert Cho

      You’re quite welcome Nick! Glad this could help.

      To answer your question, using an easy-to-remember code should be perfectly fine. Considering the circumstances in which you would use the duress code, you want something you can clearly remember. The downside of an easy code is that if you have children that like to press buttons, there’s the tiny possibility of them setting off a false alarm.

      Most burglars probably won’t be tipped off by an easy code, but it’s a valid concern. I’d choose a code that has a variety of different numbers, but is something easy to remember – like a birth year or credit card PIN number.

      Hope this helps and thanks for the comment!

  15. Donald Bennington

    Wouldn’t this duress code be helpful, if a prowler, while trying to open an armed window, or a window without a sensor, and I’m near the control panel to enter the duress code. It would save time for the monitoring center not to make a phone call. The police would be on its way.

  16. Donald Bennington

    Wouldn’t this duress code be helpful, if a prowler, while trying to open an armed window, or a window without a sensor, and I’m near the control panel to enter the duress code. It would save time for the monitoring center not to make a phone call. The police would be on its way.

  17. William

    When I set my code, the numbers did not appear on the small screen. Only dashes. Is it set?

  18. Fran King

    Once you have set a duress code, can you change it?

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hey Fran! You can change your duress code by following the same steps listed above. The only difference will be in Step 5, where you’ll see your current code flashing instead of “- -“. Just enter your new code to overwrite it, press OK and then Status three times and you’ll be good to go.

  19. Monica

    Here’s a thought: If you leave the duress code on a sticky note in the vicinity of your alarm panel, a burglar that may have gained entry thru a doggy door or unarmed window can call the cops on themselves while trying to disarm the system.

    • Gilbert Cho

      Clever idea! Ideally, a burglar would never gain entry to a home, but if they do, this would be a sneaky way to catch them. The look on the burglar’s face when they realize what happened would be priceless.

      As a side note, if you have children, we don’t recommend doing this as they may mistake it for the primary user code. We don’t want them to set off a false alarm!

  20. Yvonne

    Loved reading comments and reviews from customers of FrontPoint. I’ve had it for 4 months. Service is supperb, set up easy, customer service exceptional and my peace of mind unspeakable. Thank u, FrontPoint, thank u!

  21. Yvonne

    Loved reading comments and reviews from customers of FrontPoint. I’ve had it for 4 months. Service is supperb, set up easy, customer service exceptional and my peace of mind unspeakable. Thank u, FrontPoint, thank u!

  22. Ben Nowak

    Can you guys make a panic button for the mobile app?

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hi Ben! There are currently no plans to bring a panic function to the mobile app. We want panic buttons to be easily accessible, so you know that help is only one button press away. Compared to the panic buttons found on Keychain Remote, Panic Pendant and Control Panel, a panic button in the app would not be as easily accessible; you’d have to unlock your phone, open the app and then press the button.

      That being said however, we’re constantly working closely with Alarm.com to bring better functionality and features to the mobile app, so we’ll certainly be looking at solutions to make this a possibility. Thanks for the great question!

  23. Dave in L.A.

    What an excellent feature! My wife and I, retired seniors, continue to be very impresed with Frontpoint.

    Hopefully we’ll never have to use the emergency/duress features, but we love knowing they’re available at out fingertips.

  24. Jesse Sparks

    The duress code is a nice idea and gives my wife extra piece of mind when she’s home alone.

  25. Ryan

    Fantastic idea the duress code is. Easy to follow instructions as always guys. Much appreciated!

  26. Drl

    Is a duress alarm treated as the highest priority emergency by Frontpoint, or is it treated equal to a Police Panic button alarm?

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hi Drl! The duress alarm is treated as THE highest priority emergency. The moment you finish entering the code, help will be on the way.

      Thanks and let us know if you have any other questions.

  27. deb

    Is there an extra monthly charge to use this

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hi Deb, there is no extra charge to use this! This is a security feature that all our customers have access to from the get-go.

  28. Diana

    AWESOME feature.

    Does it work the same way from the phone app?

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hi Diana, there’s unfortunately no way to use the duress code on the mobile app, primarily as a precautionary measure for customer security. Most of the functions associated with the duress code are handled directly using the Control Panel. Hope this helps!

  29. Kiran

    Once a duress code is entered, is the system still armed or unarmed? So, if the bad guy opens the front door after the duress code is entered, does that action set off the alarm?

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hi Kiran, great question!

      By entering the duress code, you’d be disarming your system, but more importantly, you’re also sending out a signal that immediately notifies the authorities to send help. However, to a burglar, it would appear as if you were disarming your system as normal.

      Because entering the duress code disarms your system (and although help is on the way), we do not recommend using it unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you see a burglar approaching your home, it’d be better to either call 911 or to use the panic button on your Control Panel/Keychain Remote/Panic Pendant. You should only use the duress code when there is no other option left, like when the burglar is inside your home with you and telling you to disarm the system.

      Feel free to let me know if you have any further questions and I’ll do my best to help!

      • Caroline

        I never received a pendant or keychain panic alarm

        • Gilbert Cho

          Hi Caroline, I apologize for any confusion my comment may have caused, but the Panic Pendant and Keychain Remote are both items you can purchase from Frontpoint. In my comment, I was suggesting to Kiran that if she had any of these items, they’d be better options to use in the situation she described.

  30. Charlette Bryan

    This just gives me more peace of mind. With my kids getting older and being able to come home without me being there It allows me to be more confidant about the decision.

  31. Eric P

    Is there a way to verify if I have setup the duress code properly? Can I call Cust Svc to have it verified for me?

    • Jamie Botzer

      Hi Eric, yes! If you call Customer Support, they’ll be able to verify that you set it up correctly. They cannot, however, tell you what your code is — we want that to stay private, for your security. Hope this helps!

  32. Eric Gunther

    I requested this feature months ago and called it a home invasion code. Was told to just give a wrong password when they called me but I explained I would have to trip the alarm for over a minute before the transmission wouldn’t be cancelled. Glad someone at FrontPoint was listening. Thanks!

  33. Terry

    I also did not know about this feature. Instructions that came with installation to me seem limited, but conversations with FrontPoint have been very good. It would be nice to find in one location on say on the website which has Tips and Tricks listed that one can easily fine.

  34. Gail

    FANTASTIC, Frontpoint! We’ve been using your service for nearly 2 years and only knew about the panic button on the control panel. I just set ours up. As far as the panic button, I thought I remembered someone telling us that you have to press and hold the panic button for a certain number of seconds, rather than just pressing it. Can you clarify that?

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hi Gail! You’re exactly right, you’ll have to press and hold the panic button for three seconds for it to go through. This small delay is in place to help users avoid inadvertently pressing the button and causing a false alarm.

  35. Yvonne

    I am as excited as everyone else about this feature. Another layer of comfort. I hardly notice
    my system either.. But I do admit I take a peek at it every now and then…with a smile. I love it.
    Thanks for the tip.

  36. Willy Lam

    Can we setup/change the Duress code though myfrontpoint.com?

    Thank you!

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hi Willy, as a precaution for customer security, duress codes cannot be set up through the MyFrontpoint website.

      Let us know if you have any other questions!

  37. Steve O

    Thanks for the tip! I’ve used this system over six years and didn’t realize it had that feature.

  38. Steve O

    Thanks for the tip! I’ve used this system over six years and didn’t realize it had that feature.

  39. Bob

    Where it’s supposed to say “Access Codes” mine comes back to “System Programming”. I’ve tried it multiple times, including reversing the direction, and it’s consistent. I can’t find “Access Codes”.

    • Jamie Botzer

      Well, that’s not good! When you get to “System Programming,” hit the OK button. Then enter the primary 4-digit user code and hit OK again. “Access Codes” should appear at this time. If it doesn’t, it could mean that you entered your user code incorrectly, or you’re not using the primary user code for the panel. Hopefully these steps will help you out!

      If you’re still having issues finding “Access Codes,” please give us a call at 877-602-5276 and one of our Customer Support Specialists will help you troubleshoot. We’re open until 11 pm Eastern today and open tomorrow at 8 am Eastern. Good luck!

  40. John Herrold

    Is there any way to undo a duress code once it is entered?

    • Jamie Botzer

      Hi John, there is no way to undo the duress code. If you realize that you’ve entered it on accident, your best bet is to call Rapid Response (our monitoring station) and let them know that it was an accident. Great question!

  41. Kim

    Does the duress code work if the system is unarmed?

    • Jamie Botzer

      Kim, the Duress Code does not work if the system is unarmed. the Duress WILL work if the system is unarmed. However, it’s designed to allow you to discretely alert the monitoring station that there is something wrong — like if an intruder follows you into your home and forces you to disarm the panel. So if you find instead that you’re in a situation where a burglar is inside your home but hasn’t noticed you yet, we recommend using the panic button instead.

      If you are in an emergency situation and your system is not armed, there is a panic button on the side of the panel (it looks like a police shield). If you hit that button, the monitoring station will respond in the same way as if an alarm was sent: they’ll call to confirm that there is an emergency and if they can’t reach you, they’ll dispatch the police.

      Hopefully you’ll never need to use either of these features.

  42. RPF

    Can you have more than one duress code?

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hey RPF, the system can only have one duress code. Having a single code helps to make it easier to remember this important code should you ever have to use it.

  43. Wesley M

    Does the system do anything different so the person entering the code knows they have entered the duress code? So if someone in a hurry happens to enter the duress code by mistake they will realize what happened before the police come knocking on the door. Which brings up my second question. What if the duress code is entered by mistake, will entering the correct code cancel the duress?

    • Jamie Botzer

      Great question, Wesley! The way the Duress Code works is that it will disarm the system as your normal code would, and it sends a signal to the monitoring station that there is a duress situation. The monitoring station dispatches the police and they don’t call to verify it — it’s meant to be very discrete.

      If you entered your duress code by mistake, the best solution is for you to call Rapid Response (our monitoring station) and tell them it was a mistake. Because the duress code is discrete, there is no distinct way to tell if you entered it instead of your normal code unless you remember/notice.

  44. Wesley M

    Does the system do anything different so the person entering the code knows they have entered the duress code? So if someone in a hurry happens to enter the duress code by mistake they will realize what happened before the police come knocking on the door. Which brings up my second question. What if the duress code is entered by mistake, will entering the correct code cancel the duress?

  45. Ed

    Would this also work if the duress code were entered using the remote talking touch pad?

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hey Ed! That’s correct, entering the duress code on your Talking Touch Pad would also work. Thanks!

  46. Krista

    I also had no idea the system could do this – thank you so much for the tip! I set it up right away.

  47. Krista

    I also had no idea the system could do this – thank you so much for the tip! I set it up right away.

  48. roger

    we primary use a key fob to arm and disarm the system. Is there a button combination that will do the same thing?

    • Jamie Botzer

      There sure is, Roger! If you hold the arm and disarm buttons down at the same time for three seconds it will set off a loud alarm from your panel and send the alarm signal to our monitoring station. Unlike with the duress code, this does not send a silent alarm and the monitoring station will call to verify that there is an emergency.

  49. roger

    we primary use a key fob to arm and disarm the system. Is there a button combination that will do the same thing?

  50. Gunnar

    Does the distress code work even when the system is armed? For example, you are home and the alarm is off, but you enter the code in an emergency. Will it still alert the police?

    • Gunnar

      *when it is not armed

      • Jamie Botzer

        Great question, Gunnar. The duress code is only meant to appear to disarm the panel. So, if your system was never armed it would not work. However, there is a panic button on the left side of the panel — it has the police shield on it. If you’re in an emergency situation, you can press this button and it will send a panic signal to the monitoring center. The monitoring center will call your home to verify that you intended to send the signal before contacting the police — sometimes small children will accidentally hit the button. I hope you never have to use this!

  51. Gunnar

    Does the distress code work even when the system is armed? For example, you are home and the alarm is off, but you enter the code in an emergency. Will it still alert the police?

    • Gunnar

      *when it is not armed

  52. Kathy

    I attempted to enter the duress code but it wouldn’t work. After step 2 (entering my primary code, OK) I got the “sub-disarmed”message and never found “access codes”.

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hi Kathy, it sounds like the menu screen may be timing out while you were setting up your duress code. When this happens, it’ll automatically take you back to the ‘Disarmed’ screen, which is where I think you were entering your primary code. As a result, you were ending up with the ‘Subdisarmed’ message instead of the next step in the duress code setup process. To get out of the ‘Subdisarmed’ state, just enter your primary code again and it’ll return to ‘Disarmed.’

      When reaching step 2, have your primary code ready to go so you can input it without a delay.

      Hopefully this clears things up! If you’re still running into issues, please let us know.

  53. Antonio M

    Does the “reverse 4 digit pass code” still works?

    This works by entering your 4 digit pass code in reverse order. For example if your 4 digit code is “1234”, you can alert the monitoring station that you’re in danger by entering “4321”.

    Does this still works?

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hi Antonio,

      You can certainly set up the duress code to be the reverse of your primary user code. This is actually a great way to make sure you don’t forget it!

      However, it sounds like you may be asking if there’s already a built-in “reverse code” that would act as a duress code – unfortunately, there isn’t. You will need to set up a duress code through the process shown here.

      Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with!

  54. Scott Udas

    Very good to know, thank you

  55. Lisa Newman

    Great idea! Upon reading about this feature I went to the control panel and did it!
    Many thanks FrontPoint!!

  56. Lisa Newman

    Great idea! Upon reading about this feature I went to the control panel and did it!
    Many thanks FrontPoint!!

  57. Steve Boyd

    That is a very good idea. Love the fact that i never think about the alarm, its just there. No false alarms, no constant issues. The only time i give it a second thought is when i get your little newsletter, telling me how to get more out of service i already have, not trying to sell me extra stuff. Appreciate your service very much.

  58. Steve Boyd

    That is a very good idea. Love the fact that i never think about the alarm, its just there. No false alarms, no constant issues. The only time i give it a second thought is when i get your little newsletter, telling me how to get more out of service i already have, not trying to sell me extra stuff. Appreciate your service very much.

  59. Tai Nguyen

    Good to know the trick. But, assume that the intruder doesn’t allow me go through all 6 steps… What should I do? Can you shorten the trick to make it goes quicker?
    Thanks.
    Tai

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hey Tai! The six steps listed here are actually for the setup of the duress code, not how to use it. Should the need to use the duress code ever arise (really hope it never does), you’d enter it like your normal user code.

      Sorry for the confusion and I hope this clears things up. Please feel free to ask if you have any further questions!

  60. Tai Nguyen

    Good to know the trick. But, assume that the intruder doesn’t allow me go through all 6 steps… What should I do? Can you shorten the trick to make it goes quicker?
    Thanks.
    Tai

    • Gilbert Cho

      Hey Tai! The six steps listed here are actually for the setup of the duress code, not how to use it. Should the need to use the duress code ever arise (really hope it never does), you’d enter it like your normal user code.

      Sorry for the confusion and I hope this clears things up. Please feel free to ask if you have any further questions!

  61. Debi Bly

    Had this system and never knew I could do this. GREAT! idea. Set mine up as soon as I read my email.
    Thank you!

  62. Denise Heil

    This is a great feature. Thank you for another safety feature.