In an unfortunate turn of events for those who may have locked themselves out of their house or car, there is an increasing trend of locksmith scam across the country with scammers preying on already vulnerable customers. These “professional locksmiths” will often advertise extremely low rates and then charge the customer several times what was advertised or quoted, citing additional fees such as labor. They may also remove locks which they say are unpickable and replace them with expensive, new locks instead. Other tricks which have been reported include spoofing as a local locksmith, going as far as using competitor names and addresses. Some of these spoofed locksmiths are not in fact local and will charge an arm and a leg for services. One way to tell that they are not legitimate is if you are route to a call center who issues a mobile technician upon your explanation of the problem.
Locksmiths who take advantage of people via false advertising and scammy strategies should be reported to the local Better Business Bureau (BBB) to get the word out. The best offense though is really to have a good defense by having done your homework in order to avoid getting scammed in the first place. There are certain things that you should look for in finding a good locksmith for your needs who is local and genuine.
The BBB will usually have a list of reputed locksmiths, which is a good place to start in your search. Make a list and keep it with you – on your phone or wallet. If you get locked out of your car or home, first you should try to call roadside assistance if you have it or your auto insurance which will also be able to help you find someone to help. Third, try to verify the stated business address and make sure that it is local. Googling for the business website and looking at the address (and potentially calling the phone number to verify) can be a good practice here.
When you talk to a potential locksmith make sure that he is bonded and has insurance. This can help protect you against faulty work or mistakes by the professional. It is also a good idea to make sure that they have worker’s compensation coverage in case they get injured on the job. Once a person is contacted and arrives at the scene, ask them for a company id. If they do not have a legitimate id or are hesitant, that may be a sign of caution. A legitimate locksmith will also ask you for your id to verify that you are the correct customer- if this does not happen, you should also think twice. Finally, if they immediately insist that they need to replace the lock, you should be wary. This is really only meant as a last resort by true professionals and could be a ploy to bill you more. Most locksmiths will try several things before they jump to that final solution.
It is unfortunate that scams are increasing in this arena, but being well prepared can save you time and money.
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