Avoiding Locksmith Scams
When you’re in need of a locksmith, typically it’s in a need-it-now scenario, and you’re not taking the time to research who you’ll use as you usually might. However, this is not the time to skimp on your Sherlock skills. It seems that even the locksmith field isn’t exempt from scams and imposters. In fact, these days the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which publishes an annual Top 10 list of consumer complaints, has locksmith fraud as one of the fastest-growing scams in the U.S. Many investigators even believe this profitable scam has organized crime very involved in it. So if you find yourself needing a local locksmith at the last minute in Detroit, MI, keep some of the following current scams in mind to navigate away from them.
Current Locksmith Scams
“Local” locksmiths. The most prevalent scam is advertising online as a local locksmith. Many of these scammers will list themselves as a local locksmith with a local address, even if they have an 800 number. But these “local” locksmiths are actually a call center, many times located out of state or out of the country, and present themselves as a local store. In these operations, they’ll contact their poorly trained subcontractors and send them out to you.
Bait-and-switch pricing. These “local” locksmiths will advertise very low prices, $20 to $50, to come out to your locale. Once there, these subcontractors will charge you three to four times the originally quoted amount, touting they ran into problems or the job was more complicated than they thought.
Licensing. Currently there are only 15 states that require locksmith licensing (Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia). These subcontractors will say they’re licensed, even in states requiring no license.
Drilling out locks. A popular scam is for these subcontractors to drill out or replace your lock. In most cases, the only locks that require drilling are high-security locks. Experienced locksmiths carry the necessary equipment and have the skills to unlock your lock without drilling or replacing it.
A Few Tips
Even with locksmith scams growing, there are ways to protect yourself:
Be sure the locksmith is really local. Even though it’s tough to tell a Photoshopped photo from an authentic one online, do what you can to determine that the locksmith is truly local, like the locksmiths at Preferred Safe & Lock.
Insist on a cost estimate before work begins. Before the locksmith begins any part of the job, insist on a cost estimate, written if possible. When you call, ask if there will be any additional charges, like for mileage, emergency hours, or service calls. If you’re not happy with any of the responses or they refuse to answer, hang up.
Ask to see identification and license (where applicable). Always ask to see the locksmith’s identification and license (in states where they license). Certified members should belong to the Associated Locksmiths of American (ALOA). A reputable locksmith should also ask for your identification to verify the house or car belongs to you. Also, if a locksmith drives up in an unmarked vehicle or in one with a different business name than what you hired, this could indicate a potential scammer.
Be sure they accept credit cards. If your locksmith insists on cash only, this is a sign of trouble. Ahead of time, be sure the company accepts credit cards. And no matter what the locksmith says, do not give him or her your credit card until the job is complete and you’re satisfied.
Do not allow them to drill your lock. A skilled locksmith doesn’t need to drill your locks. He or she will have the expertise and equipment to pick your lock.
Locksmith scams are unfortunately a growing business among the unscrupulous. Take measures to sure you’re hiring someone local and reputable. Our locksmiths at Preferred Safe & Lock have the expertise and knowledge to handle any of your locksmith needs. Call us today at 586-757-7742 with any questions or locksmith needs you may have. We’re always happy to help.
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