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Security Camera Tips

Safeguard Your Security Cameras

These days, most of our devices are connected thanks to the Internet of Things. While this can make things more convenient for us, it can also leave us vulnerable to hackers.

There have been many public stories about cyber attacks and spying, from hacked baby monitors to internet outages. And while we may never see an end to cyber criminals, this proves that we can never be too cautious.

These unfortunate hacks can occur from unsecure Wi-Fi connections, open devices (no passwords), or malware attacks. Luckily, there are ways to combat attacks and minimize our risks.

Heed these cyber security tips that may apply to security cameras, webcams, as well as baby and pet monitors.

  • Keep Your Internet Private

Employ a full-service security suite for your internet and keep it up to date. Use a strong, unique password and encryption to protect your network.

  • Create Secure Passwords

Always change the default password that comes with your wireless networks and any of your devices. When choosing a password, remember to incorporate numbers, capital letters, and, when allowed, multiple punctuation marks. You should also try to use 12 digits, and avoid names, places, or anything that can easily be guessed. To ensure you’ve created strong and secure passwords, use a password checker.

  • Keep Software Up-To-Date

As stated previously, keep all your devices and software updated as these help to patch any known or found vulnerabilities that allow hackers to gain access. Although this simple step can easily be overlooked, it is important to stay on top of these updates.

  • Cover Cameras When They Are Not In Use

If your camera indicator light goes on without your permission, you can assume that your computer has been compromised. However, just because the light is off, you cannot assume that your camera is safe. Researchers have found that hackers can infiltrate and turn on webcams without activating the indicator light.

To err on the side of caution, keep your cameras covered. There are different types of patches, stickers, devices, and other products on the market that you can use. However, for an immediate fix, masking tape will suffice.

  • Don’t Click That Suspicious Link!

If there is any uncertainty, do not click the link. Only download attachments or click on links from people you know and trust. If you were not expecting a message or attachment from a trusted person, be sure to check with them before opening or downloading anything.

  • Avoid Using Unsecured Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi networks are prone to hackers so avoid them when you can.

  • Check Your Camera Log

If your security system permits (most do), check the IP addresses that have accessed your cameras. If you find any suspicious IP addresses on your log, be sure to change your access codes right away and notify your security company.

  • Manage Cameras Settings

Network connected security cameras allow you to remotely monitor your cameras via an app or a website. If you do not need this feature, turn it off.

  • Consider A Separate Network

It may be beneficial to have one network for your phone and computers and another network solely dedicated to your security systems and other monitors.

Being an educated consumer will minimize your risk of becoming a victim. These security precautions promote safe use of personal technology and can go a long way for your cyber security. Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest to share your own cyber security tips.

Need quality security cameras and CCTV surveillance equipment? Look no further than SecurityCamExpert.com! Call 888-203-6294 to schedule a free* site survey, request a quote, or inquire about our installation services.

Take Your Security Seriously

Protecting our families, homes, and valuables is a top priority. Home and business security systems aim to give you peace of mind when it comes to intruders, however, not all properties are created equal. A security system tailored to your specific needs is a smarter option. Aside from consulting with Security Cam Experts, you should also take note of these statistics and security tips.

Statistics

  • According to the FBI, in 2014, there were 1,729,806 burglaries in the United States.
  • Of those burglaries, 73.2% were residential burglaries.
  • Of these residential burglaries, nearly 28% occurred during the day while over half happened at night.
  • Top targets include women living alone or wealthy senior citizens.
  • Burglars also choose targets by the type of car you drive, what neighborhood you live in, the size of the home, or signs that a home is unoccupied.

Prevention Tips

  • Never open your door to strangers or solicitors. Remember that delivery persons need not step into your home to make a delivery.
  • Never rely on a chain-latch as a barrier to partially open the door. With enough force, it can easily be broken.
  • If you don’t have one already, install a peephole and always use it to see who is at your door before opening it.
  • Lock all doors, windows, and garages at all times. This helps to prevent unwanted intruders from simply walking through an unlocked entrance.
  • Choose heavy duty locks and use four three-inch screws to secure heavy duty lock strike plates in the door frames.
  • See something, say something. If you notice any suspicious stranger activity, call the police.
  • Have a family meeting in regards to home security plans so that everyone is on the same page.

Having something to protect you is better than nothing, which is why even a simple dummy camera can make a difference. But if you can afford it, investing in surveillance systems and home alarm systems can be a great benefit and put some of your worries at ease. If you have any questions or want to shop a wide variety of affordable security cameras and equipment, please call 888-203-6294 or visit SecurityCamExpert.com today!

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Dummy Cameras

If you’re looking for a very inexpensive way to protect your home or business, dummy security cameras could be a smart solution for you. While the costs are low, the effectiveness of dummy cameras can be limited in certain situations. So are dummy CCTV cameras worth the investment?

Studies have shown that security cameras can deter property crime. More often than not, criminals will be discouraged if there is a higher chance of getting caught, thus, will move on to an easier target. With that being said, the security camera does not have to be real, however, it should closely mimic one to get the real effect.

Before you purchase a dummy camera, you should know what features to look for and which to avoid.

You will want a dummy camera that looks real close up and from far away. They should replicate existing security cameras and include a visible data cable and power outlet.

Red LED bulbs are often placed on dummy cameras to draw attention and show that they are recording. However, real cameras are designed to be inconspicuous and only have a hidden green light on the back to let owners and technicians that the camera is active.

In addition to red LED lights, you should also avoid dummy cameras that have an automatic motor which allows the camera to pan side to side. Real security cameras are usually motion activated and only track movement when it is detected.

Advantages
The cost-benefits ratio of a dummy security camera is its main selling point. Their price is minor in comparison to the cost of security cameras, monitoring stations, plus wiring and installation fees.

You also don’t need a technician to install these, nor the added equipment and man power to manage and store recordings. You will also save on maintenance costs as it is not necessary with dummy cameras.

Disadvantages
On the other hand, should the burglar choose to target you regardless of the faux camera, you will have no footage to submit to local authorities in hopes of identifying the subject. Also, those who know about the fake system (ex. neighbors, former employees) may leak the information rendering your system useless.

If you are in the market for a dummy camera or an affordable CCTV surveillance system, browse our stock online at SecurityCamExpert.com! Request a site survey, get a free quote, or inquire about our installation services by calling us at 888-203-6294.

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Video Surveillance Troubleshooting

Problems that may arise with security camera systems are sometimes related to powering issues or even factory defects. However, more often than not, these problems are usually attributed to improper cabling and connections, which boils down to the installation.

Prior to security camera system installation, technicians must be mindful of the features, functions, and especially the limitations of the actual hardware. While all installations are different, an understanding of the specific system and the customer’s expectation is crucial for a quality job.

Here are some common installation problems you may come across along with helpful trouble shooting tips.

Rolling Lines On The Screen
Whether they are white or multi-colored, these rolling lines or ghosting over the camera’s video are often caused by video cables that run close to high-voltage power sources.

To prevent this, cameras should be tested at another location prior to installation in order to eliminate any hardware defects as a cause to any future issues. Also, keep wires away from sources that supply high-voltage electrical charges at any point of the run. Improperly grounded electrical circuits can also cause video disturbances, which is why high quality camera cables are crucial.

Infrared Glare/”White Out”
The most common causes of IR glare are reflective surfaces and large, lightly colored areas. “White out” (unrecognizable white silhouettes on screen) is often caused by objects that are too close to the camera. Also, if you install infrared security cameras under eaves, the beams of the IR LEDs may hit parts of the structure and bounce back, causing the reflection to blind the camera.

To combat these potential problems, install your cameras in areas clear of any objects that may cause glare or obstruct the camera’s view. Also, be sure that the user keeps these areas clear (at least three feet). You should also test daytime and low-light conditions before completing installation. Cameras with “Smart IRs” that have dynamic IR strengths can help to alleviate these problems as well and ensure high-quality night time images.

IR Cameras Unable To See In The Dark
In order to employ IR cameras properly, a surface is necessary for the IP light beams to bounce off. For example, when you point a flashlight into the night sky it remains dark because there is nothing allowing the light beams to bounce back.

Choose cameras that have sufficient IR distance capabilities. During installation, point the cameras at an angle facing a surface (ex. ground, wall) and test them under low-light conditions before proceeding.

Extreme Glare During Daylight
If your property has lots of glass doors and windows, you may have an issue with extreme glare. Glare from the sun does not mix well with security cameras, which means a special alternative is necessary.

In these situations, you want to invest in cameras with mechanical Wide Dynamic Range (WDR). These are designed to prevail in extreme lighting conditions. While “digital WDR” does it exist and can be helpful in these situations, it does not work as well as true, mechanical WDR.

Insufficient Power Causing Cameras To Drop Out
Without the proper power source, security cameras will not perform properly, causing them to drop out or lose power. While spec sheets may specify the camera’s power needs, they may not factor in the added power necessary for IR/low-light applications. For example, the system may work fine during the day, but drop out at night when the IR kicks in.

It is advised that you use a power supply which supports twice the voltage requirements of all your cameras combined.

When it comes to power, distance may play a role as well. Voltage drops can occur due to poor quality cables and long distances. To avoid this issue, AC voltage is recommended for runs greater than 250ft.

Inadequate Coverage
With great features and functions come limitations as well. For maximum coverage of your property, first map out your installation to identify areas that need surveillance. Based on the locations, you can determine which specific features you need for certain areas. For example, focal lengths and angles of view should be considered (longer lenses for closer view, shorter lenses for wide-angle shots). In general, license plate cameras should be installed no more than five feet from vehicles and valuable points of interest (such as cash registers, entrances and exits) should have a camera dedicated solely to monitoring that area.

Have you come across any issues not mentioned here? How did you resolve it? Share your stories and advice with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Choose SecurityCamExpert.com for quality security cameras along with professional installation and support services. Visit us online or call 888-203-6294 to learn more!

Common Security Camera Mistakes

When it comes to security, you want to deter intruders from targeting your property. Investing in advanced security and surveillance cameras with the latest technologies can be a smart approach, however, in order to be effective, they must be installed properly. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when installing a security camera system on your property.

Mistake #1 – Hiding Your Cameras
The presence of security cameras can deter bad behavior, so why would you hide them? Making them visible from the street, yet out of reach, is a good idea. Keeping the cameras out of reach is important to prevent any tampering or vandalism that could compromise their performance. Burglars are always on the hunt for an easy target, and homes or businesses with security cameras create an extra obstacle.

Mistake #2 – Camera Positioning
The important places to monitor are rather obvious, but you must also take intermittent lighting and weather conditions into consideration. Things like direct sunlight can wash out your recordings, while rain or snow can build up on the lens, and windy days can make branches and leaves a problem. All of these can interfere with your recordings and possibly make your footage useless.

The best way to avoid these issues is to employ proper housing to protect and shade your cameras. Keep an eye on your feed to ensure that various weather conditions are not interrupting your surveillance.

Furthermore, if you’re using IP cameras, it is crucial that each camera location has strong and consistent Wi-Fi signal. Weak or spotty connection will impede your camera system’s performance.

Mistake #3 – Cheap Systems
Unfortunately, not all security cameras are equal. While there are many inexpensive cameras and systems that may seem appealing (especially to your wallet), you will likely run into performance issues. When shopping for security cameras, be sure to pay attention to features and specifications. Look into user feedback and reviews to ensure you are making a sound investment.

Mistake #4 – Passwords
With anything security related, we can’t stress enough how important strong passwords are. And always, always, ALWAYS change the default password. If someone gains unauthorized access to your surveillance feed, they can study the layout of your system and your daily routines, mapping out the best time to attack.

If you have an internet-connected system, it likely offers remote monitoring, thus you need a password to access it. Again, change your default password as soon as possible, and choose a strong, complex, and long password that you can remember.

Mistake #5 – DIY Installation
While it may seem more practical to set things up on your own, it might be better to leave it to the professionals. You don’t want to risk ruining your equipment because you installed it improperly. Trustworthy companies usually offer warranties, and will come back to fix any issues should they arise.

Do you have any other advice to add? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

For a great selection of quality security cameras & CCTV surveillance packages, visit SecurityCamExpert.com. For more information about our products and installation services, please call 1-888-203-6294.

Ethics & Laws Of Home Surveillance

When you decide to install home security cameras, where you place your cameras and how you use your footage is important to consider. For maximum protection, it is recommended to monitor common areas as well as possible points of entrance. While home surveillance is not banned, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid breaking the law.

Home Surveillance Concerns
Within your home, you do have the right to record without informing others, but there are very large exceptions to this rule. First, any area where a “reasonable expectation of privacy” is assumed is off limits. For example, if your home security cameras are monitoring your front yard and possibly the sidewalk and street, your expectation of privacy in these areas is low. On the other hand, bathrooms and bedrooms, where you may be in a state of undress, have a high expectation of privacy, and, thus, are prohibited.

Second, if your cameras enable audio recording, you may want to brush up on wiretapping laws. While these vary slightly from state to state, federal statutes allow audio recording so long as one of the two parties consents. This basically means that you, as the recorder, may know and give consent without informing the other party. However, some states, including California, require dual consent, meaning both parties must be aware and agree to be recorded.

In regards to recording burglars, any trespassers forfeit any expectation of privacy in your home. You may record the person, submit the footage to police, and use your video in court.

For cameras that run non-stop and record audio, you will want to warn any person that is allowed access to your home that these cameras are there and running, otherwise you may run the risk of breaking wiretapping laws. These people include family members, guests/visitors, delivery persons or installers.

The Consent Conundrum
You may now be wondering how you can lawfully gain dual consent. Will verbal consent or a surveillance sticker in the window suffice, or should you have every guest fill out a consent form upon entering? Unfortunately, consent for audio recordings must be given in written form. It is a common misconception that window decals or yard signs are sufficient means to gain consent, as it is expected for visitors to see and recognize them.

However, in a home setting, there may be an exception to the rule. With home cameras, it boils down to what you do, or intend to do, with your recordings. If you don’t do anything with the recording, it is likely that no one will know or care – no harm, no foul.

If you do something with the recording, things change. For example, say a celebrity is a guest in your home and now you have footage of this celebrity hanging out in your home. While selling this footage to a gossip magazine for profit may seem enticing, you will be breaking the law. First, consent was never given from this celebrity.  Second, you cannot use a recording for commercial gain without the subject’s consent.

In regards to wiretapping, a possible solution is to simply turn off audio recording if your devices permit. However, why turn off a service that you have paid for? While thieves are usually fairly quiet while they work, using audio recording for eavesdropping may be beneficial (but puts forth yet another ethical dilemma).

Uses For Recordings
Let’s say you record someone in your home plotting a crime, or admitting to committing a crime. Most states allow you to use the recording to prevent a crime or prove that one was committed.

However, if the recording does not involve a crime and you decide to post it on YouTube or a social media site, you could be engaging in illegal activity. Using a recording for exploitive or commercial purposes (as in the previous celebrity example) may be misappropriation if not all parties consent. As a reminder, laws vary from state to state so please look into your own state’s laws.

Also, even within your own home, recording with the intention of blackmail is illegal.

Law enforcement has the right to ask for your home surveillance if they suspect illegal activity, and a warrant will likely be necessary. However, since most recordings are stored in the cloud, they may be able to go straight to the provider and obtain the footage, bypassing your permission to access.

What Should You Do?
To err on the side of caution, be sure that everyone entering your home is aware that the cameras are there, and avoid placing them in areas where privacy is expected. If you wish to withhold the information, so long as you do not do anything with the footage, you should be fine.

However, there are other reasons to be careful with the privacy of your security cameras. While you may not have the intention to do bad things, hackers may be able to access your cameras and broadcast your feed. To protect yourself and your guests, it is advised to take reasonable security precautions (ex. strong passwords, maintain security Wi-Fi network), and take the ethical high road when using new technology.

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Choose from our quality security cameras and surveillance equipment to protect your home or business. Shop our stock online or call 1-888-203-6294 today!

How To Utilize Your Security Cameras

Aside from keeping your home safe from intruders, security cameras can serve many different purposes. Here are some clever and smart ways you can utilize your surveillance system.

Security Cameras & Floodlights
While there are security cameras with night vision and infrared LED lights, sometimes clarity and resolution is compromised in these settings. If you’re monitoring outdoors, consider installing floodlights to keep your surroundings illuminated. Floodlights with built-in motion sensors can help you save energy and startle whoever may be lurking in the dark. Consider installing these near doors or windows, patios, and backyards.

Wireless Security Cameras
Going wireless allows you to monitor places in your home that are off limits to your children, and can even allow you to keep an eye on your pets while you’re away. So long as there is Wi-Fi connection nearby, they cameras should be able to operate.

Baby Monitor
If you’re already using security cameras within your home, there’s no need to invest in a separate baby monitor. You can use a security camera, or a web cam, to monitor your toddlers while they sleep. Depending on your equipment, you may also be able to speak and soothe your child through the camera.

Peace Of Mind
If you have teens, you can make sure that they arrived home safely after school and are on their best behavior. If you have elderly parents that live on their own, remote access to their home security camera can alert you when something is wrong. Some systems even allow two-way audio so you can communicate with your family without picking up the phone.

Doorbell Cameras
There are devices on the market now that integrate a security camera with your doorbell. That way, whether you’re home or not, you can see who is at your door and communicate with visitors. This can be helpful if you have received a package, but no one is home to accept it. You can ask the delivery person to set it aside in an inconspicuous area.

The Unknown
You never know what you’ll catch with your security cameras. Whether it is the cause of a strange noise or an unfamiliar, suspicious-looking car from your outdoor cameras, or simply the culprit who is always leaving the food out, you can get to the bottom of some mysteries.

Nanny Cams
As one of the first mainstream home security cameras, nanny cams can be rather helpful. Whether you are wary of your nanny or other visitors in your home, you can use nanny cams to put your mind at ease. These cameras are often hidden in ordinary objects such as clocks, smoke alarms, teddy bears, etc., making them hard to distinguish.

Smart Homes
Lastly, your security cameras can be incorporated into your overall smart home system. IFTTT (If This Then That) service is a free service that allows different smart home devices to connect and “talk” to each other. Some examples of what you can program include having your lights turn on whenever motion is detected in that room, or only having your cameras record when you are not at home.

How else do you use your security cameras? Share your ideas with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!

If you’re looking to invest in a quality security camera system, choose SecurityCamExpert.com! We carry a wide selection of surveillance cameras and equipment, plus we offer free site surveys and affordable installations and service. Call 1-888-203-6294 to learn more.

Prevent Burglaries

People often take vacations over the summer, which makes it no surprise that July and August are the months with most break-ins. If you’re going away for a little vacation, use these tips to help keep your home and property safe.

Think Like A Burglar
Take a look at your home and think about the ways you would try to break in. These spots should be reinforced with extra security. You may also want to consider concealing your valuables. If burglars can see something they want through a window, they may be more likely to target that home.

Take Inventory
Take pictures of your home and your belongings before you leave. In case a burglar does target your house, the photos can help to document any damage and help you create an inventory log with estimated values of your items. Both of these can be especially helpful for insurance purposes.

Secure Indoors
These will need to be adjusted if you have a house sitter or pet sitter coming and going, but, in general, you should:

  • Update your security cameras or ensure they are working properly before your trip. If your system allows remote access, be sure that you have the proper device, application, and/or log in information to do so.
  • Store your valuables in a safety deposit box.
  • Lock all windows and close most of the shades.
  • Use a timer for your lights to make it appear as if someone is still home.
  • Set your alarm and security system before you leave.

To avoid returning to damaged property, turn off and unplug electronics, such as TVs, computers, or other devices, that could be damaged in the event of power surges. Depending on the length of your vacation, you may want to consider turning off the water and gas as well.

Secure Outdoors

  • Don’t leave hidden spare keys outside of your home.
  • Park your car inside your garage.
  • Mow the lawn and trim the hedges.
  • Move ladders or any other supplies that burglars could use to get to the second story.

Neighborly Love
If possible, get your neighbors involved. Choose a trusted neighbor or two and politely ask them if they can keep an eye on things while you’re away, and offer to do that same if they leave. You can have the post office hold your mail, or have your neighbors pick it up, as well as any ads or flyers left on your door. You may also ask them to mow your lawn, trim plants, and set out trash cans, even if they are empty. This will help to keep up the charade that someone is occupying the home. Lastly, consider giving your most trusted a neighbor a spare key in case of emergencies.

Do you have any other tips to share? Find us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

If you’re looking to upgrade or add a surveillance system to your home or business, please visit SecurityCamExpert.com. We carry a vast selection of quality security cameras, CCTV surveillance packages, and more at affordable prices. To schedule a free site survey or learn more about our installation services, please call 1-888-203-6294.

Protect Your Surveillance System

Installing a surveillance system in your home or business can provide you with a sense of security. However, if you do not properly secure your system, cyber criminals can gain access to your video feeds.

Aside from an unnerving invasion of privacy, unauthorized access to your surveillance video can help criminals study the area, identify where important property is located, figure out traffic patterns, sabotage systems, deny access to feeds, and much more.

Because IP security camera systems connect to LAN networks, extra precautions are necessary to safeguard your system from attacks. Breaches are usually due to human error, negligence, and misconfigurations, and can often be prevented. The following are common vulnerabilities and ways to protect your surveillance system.

Weak Passwords
Default usernames and passwords are common with most IP based security cameras. They are used to set up your system and accounts for remote access. Too often, people fail to change these passwords, or choose simple passwords, making it easy for strangers to access feeds.

Be sure to set strong passwords, use good password management or user certificates in lieu of passwords. You may want to consider changing your password periodically as well.

Poor Deployment
Avoid enabling unused services as it can leave your system vulnerable to attacks. For example, cyber criminals could install malicious applications and scripts using file transfer protocol (FTP) or an app platform from an untrusted developer.

Minimize your risk by disabling any unused services and installing only trusted apps.

Unclear Roles
Sometimes organizations fail to define who has access to different aspects of the surveillance system, possibly leading to confusion and employees with unnecessary access. For example, it may be unclear as to who is responsible for reviewing security measures to ensure proper protocol is being followed.

For IT departments, it is recommended to only allow users access to the resources they need to perform their job.

Software Bugs
Bugs and flaws in software codes can put your devices at risk. Luckily, you can do your part to prevent this.

Always keep your cameras, equipment, and software up-to-date with the latest firmware to ensure that bugs will not pose a threat. Vendors often post public common vulnerabilities and exposure reports which provide solutions for users.

Physical Installation Problems
Whether it is your cameras, wiring, or other infrastructure, poor installation can leave your system at risk.

Cameras should be installed out of reach to avoid any possible tampering or vandalism, but at a proper angle to view people and objects clearly.

Poor Physical Protection Of Equipment (Cabling, Servers, Gear)
If your cabling, server, or other surveillance equipment is not properly protected, your system is at risk for poor, intermittent performance. A small kink or damage to a cable can interfere with signal, causing disruption in your feed or even power failure.

Appropriate housing to protect your equipment from severe weather or extreme heat is available and is recommended for use if you are in an area susceptible to these conditions.

Poor Maintenance
Routine maintenance is ever important to ensure that your system is and will continue to function properly.

A preventative maintenance program should include a checklist of issues to look for in order to avoid small issues that can turn into big problems (ex. damaged/loose cameras and equipment, exposed, loose, or damaged cabling, dirt/moisture on camera lenses). This will allow the owner to become accustomed to the system and more aware when something seems different or wrong (ex. possible signs of tampering).

Flaws In Standard Network Protocols
Most network surveillance systems use standard network protocols (ex. FTP, TCP/IP), however, weaknesses or flaws in these protocols can expose surveillance data to attacks.

For video streams sent over the network, the latest advanced encryption methods should be used.

Failure To Align Hardware/Software On The Network With IT Policy
If your hardware or software does not meet your IT organization’s network security policy, there will be security issues. For example, third-party software or apps are often poorly supported or lack security patches which make them vulnerable to security breaches. Thus, your IT department will not be happy.

Enforcing a strong IT policy is imperative for any business.

How do you protect your surveillance system from cyber and physical attacks? Share your best tips with your peers on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!

Find a great selection of security cameras including IP surveillance cameras, CCTV security camera packages, and more at SecurityCamExpert.com. For more information, please call 1-888-203-6294.

Security Cameras: What You Need To Know

Security cameras are a great way to keep an eye on your property or business. You can use them to look after your loved ones, protect your inventory, or deter intruders all together. As appealing as security camera systems are, it is wise to know and understand your local surveillance laws.

Before you invest in your own security cameras, please review these general guidelines. Remember, these are not meant to apply to your specific situation. Instead, they are meant to give you a general idea of what is and is not allowed. If you have any further questions regarding filming restrictions and such, please contact a local attorney or research laws within your city and state.

Filming
Camera placement is important because you want to capture high traffic areas, such as entrances and back doors. If you direct your camera at an insignificant area, you will waste time and money while defeating the purpose of your security system.

Placement is also important because there are areas that are off limits, including restrooms, other people’s homes, dressing rooms and locker rooms. Basically anywhere that there is an expectation of privacy, or you are likely to be in a state of undress, is off limits.

If you are unsure whether or not you are violating someone’s right to privacy, err on the side of caution and always consult a lawyer.

Loopholes

  • Private Rooms

If you own a retail business, you may worry that customers might be committing crimes in blind spots such as dressing rooms, locker rooms, or restrooms. While legally you cannot monitor these areas, you can monitor the entrances/exits. Be sure that when the door opens, your camera does not get any glimpse of what’s behind that door, otherwise you could get into trouble. If a person goes into a restroom or dressing room with some inventory, and then exits without it that is a suggestion of a crime.

  • Neighbors

Areas that are viewable to the public are generally legal to film. This is how Google is able to provide the 360-degree street view for Google Maps. However, it is ill-advised to point your security cameras at your neighbor’s home. Whatever situation that warranted your desire or need to film your neighbor’s home could become escalated. Whether you are the one filming or the one being filmed, you may want to first speak with your neighbor about camera placement.

Audio
With audio recording, Federal Law only requires one person to know about the recording taking place. State laws will provide different regulations. Remember that federal law creates a baseline for laws. That is, state laws cannot allow for any less than one informed party.

Audio is not allowed to be obtained through eavesdropping or remote recording. Because at least one of the parties must know of the recording, you are not permitted to record conversations you are not a part of since you do not count as one of the parties. Even if the conversation is taking place in a public area, the parties can still expect privacy which protects them from eavesdroppers. In the same vein, you cannot leave your unattended recorder somewhere and use the recordings as evidence.

Loopholes
The easiest way to get around audio recording rules is to make the party aware that they are being recorded. For example, often times when you call a customer service line, you will likely hear, “This call may be recorded…” Continuing the conversation after this notification is usually viewed as consent. Thus, once you have informed someone that a room is being monitored by audio surveillance, they have the choice to continue their conversation in that room or move the discussion to a different room.

You may also record a person so long as you don’t intend on using the recording for illegal acts. Because one party is aware of the recording, the act of recording is not illegal. However, if your recording contains private information that is covered by the common law privacy, you may get into some hot water. The private information could be things like medical history (ex. miscarriage, abortion) so be sure to understand what is and is not covered.

The Constitution & Surveillance
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from “…unreasonable searches and seizures…” and details the rights of privacy. While you may think that some public security cameras would count as unreasonable, the case of Delaware v. Prouse will tell you otherwise. In this case, the Supreme Court stated that “people are not shorn of all Fourth Amendment protection when they step from their homes onto the public sidewalks”.

As far as the First Amendment goes, there has not been any critique on a camera’s existence suppressing behavior. In fact, in the Laird v. Tatum case, the court found that government surveillance of anti-war protesters did not hinder their freedom of expression. This can help security camera owners when there are accusations of civil liberty violations.

Recording Police
The First Amendment also gives you the right to document civil servants as they are performing their civic duties. The recordings are simply viewed as a way of exercising your rights. Officers may ask you to stop recording and ask for the evidence, however, you do not have to submit to their requests unless they have a warrant for your property.

The only instance in which you may be violating the law is if you are interfering with an investigation. This is often used to remove reporters from a crime scene, but your personal security camera should not interfere with the investigation. In fact, your video surveillance may be of use for the investigation.

Dual Consent
If you ever wondered why most security cameras do not have microphones, it is because, in some cases, you may need dual consent to record audio. Violating dual consent is a felony. Your best bet is to get consent to be taped before recording, and then again as the first order of business when the recording begins. Off tape and on record consent will cover your bases if you are sued for violating wiretap laws. And although it is deemed “dual consent”, you must get the express consent of everyone being recorded.

The following states may have variations on the law and should be further researched: California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

Recording Employees
The employer must have a legitimate reason for recording. The off limits areas include restrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms. There may also be restrictions in the break room. Again, you cannot record any place in which a person should expect privacy. However, anywhere that an employee interacts with a customer can be monitored. For example, the sales floor is fair game, but a personal office may not be. You will need to use your best judgment or consult an attorney. Disclosing the use of surveillance equipment to your workers will cover your bases for any illegal wiretapping issues.

The biggest restriction for recording employees is in regards to unions. An employer may not record union activities such as meetings or even discussions about union business. And surveillance cannot be used to intimidate current or prospective members of the union.

Evidence for Trial
When you submit any type of recording to a court of law, the evidence is put on trial. The validity and handling of this evidence is then scrutinized. You, as the recorder, must prove that the evidence was in no way doctored. You must go through the steps of how the footage was obtained (ex. how the video was recorded, where the camera was located, the quality of the camera at different times of day, how it was stored, etc.), and verify the whereabouts of the evidence as it was transported to court. When the footage is not in court, it must be securely stored. The integrity of your recording may be compromised if there is any data loss due to a power surge or data dump.

With this information, you should be able to make informed decisions when it comes to your security camera system. If you have any tips to share, please connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

For a great selection of quality security cameras, full CCTV surveillance packages, and more, please visit us online at SecurityCamExpert.com. To learn more about our installation and services, or to schedule a site survey, please call 1-888-203-6294.

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