The Importance of Knowing Your Security System’s Duress Code

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by Elli on January 31, 2013

Millions of homes in the United States feature some sort of security system in order to protect their home and belongings. One of the most important features to any security system is one that isn’t often discussed or thought about: a duress code.

What Is a Duress Code?

A duress code is an easy way to let someone know that you may be turning your alarm off against your will. The duress code is a secondary signal that, when entered on the alarm system keypad, sends a silent alarm to the monitoring station of your ADT security system. It can make all the difference when it comes to saving lives or property, as it merely seems as if you’re disabling the system. The proper authorities can be dispatched once the silent alarm is received.

Does My System Have a Default Duress Code?

Most ADT systems have a default duress code of 2-5-8-0, the numbers down the middle of the keypad, programmed in at installation. If you have a system operated by a company other than ADT, call your provider or talk with the technician doing the installation to find out if your system has one and what it may be.

Is a Duress Code Effective for Prevention?

Yes, a duress code can be effective in helping prevent burglaries or other criminal acts. The ability to have the monitoring station immediately notified of a potential issue and the resulting communication with law enforcement or other necessary personnel can help give peace of mind. Utilizing a duress code is sound strategy for any homeowner.

Why Are Default Duress Codes a Concern?

Leaving the default duress code on your system is concerning because if a robber or other criminal who is up to no good in your neighborhood knows the default duress code, they can easily input it in your system and circumvent the alarm. They would be able to gain access to any home that has a similar alarm system as well, rendering an entire set of alarms useless. The amount of time that a robber can buy through the entering of a default duress code may make the difference in someone being apprehended or getting away clean.

Preventing Unauthorized Access

First and foremost, find out if you have a duress code feature automatically built in to your system. If you do and there is a default code for it, find out what it is and go through the steps to change it immediately. If there is no duress feature automatically inputted, talk to your technician and/or security company and find out what steps you need to take to get one. Taking a few minutes to get answers to these questions goes a long way to increasing the safety of your home and your family.

Be proactive about your security and ensure that only trusted family members know the code so they can be prepared if emergency strikes. Take note that the user and owner’s manuals don’t usually have this information; it’s usually in the technician’s manuals.

Other Important Notes About Duress Codes

It’s important to keep several things in mind when it comes to using duress codes. First, a duress code is not an actual disarming code. It gives the appearance of disarming it while sending a silent alarm to your monitoring company, who can then notify the authorities. Second, the code should only be used in emergencies. You don’t want to use it for no real purpose and become known by the local police for having “Peter and the Wolf” syndrome.

Make sure that your duress code is something simple enough that you and the ones closest to you can remember it but not something that can be easily found out by looking at your driver’s license, like your birthday. Ensure that your family is aware of the code and don’t leave it written down somewhere that it can be seen; that’s just as bad as having a default code installed.

Do you know if your security system has a duress code implemented?