By Trae Jacobs,
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According to the National Fire Protection Agency, false alarms make up ninety-four to ninety-eight percent of all alarms. That’s a startling statistic, especially because it costs over a billion dollars a year in police resources and time. So, if you happen to hit the panic button on your ADT system accidentally or intentionally press it for something that turns out to be a false alarm, you may be wondering whether you’ll be charged for it to make up for these costs.
ADT does not charge for false alarms unless an existing county, city, or state ordinance applies false alarm charges directly to ADT. In such cases, ADT will pass the fine on to the customer from whom the false alarm originated.
False alarm fines mostly come from local police precincts and are derived from whatever local, county, or state laws exist in your area. There is no single blanket legislation that applies to all fifty states. False alarm laws generally apply at local and city levels and range from $50 to over $300, depending on where you live.
Does ADT Charge for False Alarms?
Unless there was a mistake during the professional installation process, the responsibility for a false alarm resides with the owner. ADT provides routine inspection and service, and that includes alarm companies that install ADT equipment.
Many cities and local areas across the country have false alarm ordinances that require home security customers to purchase an alarm permit. Generally, in these areas, ADT and its affiliates are required to notify new customers that they must apply for and obtain a permit.
ADT will only charge a customer a false alarm fee if the fine was applied directly to ADT—as defined by a local ordinance. In such a case, the customer is notified, and the fine will be applied to a bill.
If there is faulty wiring or a technical issue that the customer can’t control, ADT will send a technician to address the problem. Technical issues that can cause false alarms vary:
- Low batteries
- Faulty wiring
- Misplaced sensors
- Inconsistent power source
Routine checks and maintenance will alleviate these issues.
How Can Customers Deal with ADT False Alarms?
According to the False Alarm Reduction Agency, 80% of all false alarms are due to human error:
- Pets that make it into motion sensor range
- Lack of adequate training at businesses
- Windows and doors are not properly secured
- Family members that have little knowledge of the security system
- Leaving lightweight objects near A/C vents
Failure to adequately set motion zones and people detection is usually the culprit where pets are involved. Professional installers should be made aware of this so the appropriate settings can be made.
Ensure that windows and doors are closed entirely before arming your system. A window or door that’s only open a crack will set off a false alarm. Make sure that anything light enough to blow around near an air conditioning vent is secured.
Ensure all of your family members are aware of how the system works and know their user codes by memory.
False Alarms in Businesses
Businesses tend to have more false alarms than residences; with more people responsible for the security system, the risk for false alarms increases. Adequate training is necessary to address this. The more that false alarms are triggered, the costlier it will be for the business.
How Much Can ADT False Alarms Cost?
As far as taxpayers are concerned, false alarms cost police jurisdictions across the country over a billion dollars a year. Unfortunately, this translates to taxpayer dollars.
Depending on where you live, permits range anywhere from $20 to $75 and are charged annually. Failure to purchase a permit can carry significant financial penalties. Some places will fine you $1,000 at minimum for failing to acquire a permit.
Many counties and cities have a three-strike policy, where the first few false alarms are allowed within a certain period. After that, the fines mount up. Generally, fines average $50 to $100 for the first chargeable offense, then increase exponentially.
Some places impose much steeper fines. In Los Angeles, a first-time offense comes with a $216 fine and increases by $50 for each subsequent offense. There are no freebies.
To avoid false alarms and getting hit with a charge from ADT, remember these tips:
- Secure every window and door before arming the system
- Make sure professional installers are aware of pets or set motion and people zones yourself
- Educate family members or business associates
- Secure lightweight items near motion sensors
- Memorize your codes
- Establish adequate intervals for security system checks
Local communities, cities, and counties are cracking down on false alarms because they are costly and time-consuming for emergency responders. While ADT won’t directly charge you for false alarms, that doesn’t mean you won’t incur heavy financial penalties depending on where you live.
If there are issues with your home security system, address them promptly with ADT customer service, and get a technician out to inspect. In the long run, it will save you from financial penalties and frustration.