It’ll soon be summertime and homeowners and apartment dwellers will be opening windows and doors to let in the scents and sounds of the season. Instead of issuing an open-ended invitation to burglars – July and August have the highest rates of burglaries, according to the FBI - consider installing an alarm system to protect your home and loved ones.

But before you hire an alarm system company, check out its Better Business Bureau Business Review to see if there is a complaint history and if complaints were resolved. In the last three years, the BBB has had 645 inquiries and four complaints about security system consultants, and 1,471 inquiries and seven complaints about burglar alarm systems dealers.

The BBB advises consumers to do the following when looking to invest in a home security system:

Choose a professional installer. The best home-security system will accommodate your lifestyle and specific valuables you want protected. Carefully consider your security requirements and budget. Deal only with reputable firms and check out the company with BBB first.

Contact at least three companies before selecting an installer. Find out if they are properly licensed and if they screen employees before hiring. Check with the Electronic Security Association’s website at for a directory of member companies that agree to abide by the National Code of Ethics.

Ask about upfront charges. Prices for home security systems vary based on the level of protection and type of technology used. In addition to an installation charge, expect to pay monthly monitoring fees. Also, talk to your insurance agent; some systems may qualify for a discount on homeowner's premiums.

Know the ins and outs of your contract. If your alarm system will be monitored, find out the length of the contract. Typically, monitoring contracts are between two to five years. What happens if you are unsatisfied with services provided? Can you cancel the contract? What are your rights if the monitoring company is purchased or acquired by another alarm company? Make sure you understand exactly what equipment and protection you will be provided.

Insist that the installer "walk" you through your system until you fully understand how it works. This will prevent the most common problem: false alarms.