Property crime remains a problem in the United States. According to data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, there were more than 7 million property crimes across the country in 2018 alone.

But it’s not all bad news. With the right precautions, homeowners can significantly decrease their risk of being targeted by thieves and increase their peace of mind. And while leaving the lights on, trimming the hedges, and making sure a car was in the driveway helped deter potential problems, a recent survey of current and former burglars found one consistent piece of advice: install a security system. 

It’s no surprise, then, that homeowners are both buying and reselling home security gear. But buying or selling used gear comes with a potential problem: Risk. What if the equipment doesn’t work as advertised or your personal data is exposed? In this guide to reselling home security gear, we’ll talk about common pitfalls, tackle risk avoidance, and offer actionable advice to build the best security system for your needs. 

The Risks of Selling Your Home Security Gear

Once you’ve decided to upgrade security cameras, panels, or sensors, you’ve got to decide what happens to your old equipment. If you’re using the same security provider, the company may let you return the equipment you’ve purchased directly, but if you’ve added any aftermarket technology, it’s yours to keep. 

Selling it online offers a great way to make some extra cash, but homeowners need to recognize potential risks, such as:

  • Existing subscriptions: If you’re currently paying for a subscription service for an app-connected camera or entry system and forget to cancel it, you could unknowingly be paying for the buyers subscription if you forget to cancel.
  • Privacy concerns: Applications and software connected to wireless cameras or sensors may still report alerts or live data to your smartphone, in turn, giving you unwanted access to the security of the new owner. 
  • Persistent data: Effective security systems depend on data. If you forget to delete this data—everything from name and address information to schedules and passcodes—from your security devices, would end up at the buyer’s hands.

How to Avoid Risks of Reselling

While reselling any home security gear comes with risk, it’s possible to reduce the impact by:

  1. Factory resetting equipment: Most security equipment offers a “factory reset” option that restores it to default settings. Some have hardware switches or buttons that you must press for a set length of time, while other internet-connected devices require you to access specific websites and enter unique product codes to reset key functions.
  2. Canceling subscriptions: Contact your security system provider and cancel all subscriptions. Make sure you pay any balance you owe and then confirm that your access was rescinded
  3. Deleting all data: Make sure to delete all personal data from security gear before selling it. In some cases, this service is available through your mobile application, while other equipment may require you to access specific websites (often listed on the back of the device) before you can delete your data.

The Risks of Buying Used Home Security Gear

There are also inherent risks that come with buying used home security gear, including:

  • Potential hacking vulnerabilities: Not all devices offer the same level of defense against connected threats. Some use hard-coded (unchangeable) login and password details, meaning that if hackers gain access they could lock you out of your own system.
  • Malware infections: Malicious programs that steal data or damage devices are on the rise. If your used gear has a known IT security flaw, it could be at risk.
  • Previous owner access: If sellers don’t disable account access or cancel subscriptions, they could still have control of your system.
  • Defective devices: Most used security devices are sold “as is,” which means, if they’re damaged, you’re not getting your money back.

How to Avoid Risks of Buying

You can help reduce potential security risks with four simple steps:

  1. Talk to your new home security provider: If you’re planning to connect used gear with your existing security system, call your provider to make sure this is a) allowed and b) you know how to properly link existing and new devices.
  2. Reset all passwords: Factory reset all devices and passwords, even if the previous owner says they’ve completed this step.
  3. Enable two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication adds another step to the login process, usually in the form of a one-time text message code to frustrate hacker efforts.
  4. Contact the original equipment manufacturer: Not sure how to reset devices or erase data? Contact the equipment manufacturer directly for help.

What’s Next?

Reselling home security gear is now common practice for sellers to recoup some money spent and buyers to get a great deal. And while it’s possible to mitigate potential risks by recognizing—and correcting—common problems, your best bet is to start with a great security system from a trusted provider and then add-on as needed. Even if your provider can’t offer the exact gear you want, they can often provide advice about the best way to incorporate additional sensors, panels, and cameras into your existing security solution.

Need help finding your security best fit? Start with our multi-product review of the best home security systems on the market.

About the Authors

Doug Bonderud is an award-winning freelance writer with the unique ability to translate complex financial concepts into approachable, actionable content that both captures reader interest and delivers key brand messaging.