Help! I Fell for a Locksmith Scam
At Preferred Safe & Lock, we receive calls at least once a week from people here in the Grosse Pointe area who have been scammed by someone posing as a professional locksmith. We either end up going out with a follow-up remedy for the botched issue, or we try to advise some next steps for the victim.
Unfortunately, this scamming scenario is continually growing across the United States. With the internet available as a quick-search tool, scammers can create a website to give themselves instant credibility and a wide targeted audience.
What to Do If You Fall Prey to a Locksmith Scam
Before you take any steps, be sure you actually have been scammed. Many times people call us claiming they have been taken in by a locksmith scam, though it turns out it’s a high-priced bill, not really a scam.
If you have, in fact, been scammed, there are a few steps you can take. Unfortunately, calling the police is not one of them. Consumer protection laws are not enforced by the police. Rather, they are regulated by government agencies, so you can turn to small claims court if you desire. Consult an attorney for guidance in this area.
Previous to doing anything though, you need to record everything as it happened best you can, paying attention to details. Have any receipts and paperwork handy, along with documenting descriptions of the vehicle, license plate, and person who came as the locksmith. Take photos of everything.
Additionally, you can take a few other steps prior to seeking an attorney. We usually recommend:
- Contact the business and ask for a refund. Don’t get your hopes up, but you can always try. And if you’re moving forward with complaining to the appropriate agencies, they will ask you if you have already done this. We recommend asking in writing, whether it’s through email or a written letter. The more proof you have on your side of your actions, the better.
- Talk to your bank. If you paid with a credit or debit card, you have the right to contest your charges as fraud. Check with whoever issued your card. If you paid with a check, you can stop the check if it hasn’t been cashed yet. Speak with someone at your bank regarding all your options.
- File complaints. Even if you can’t get your money back, you should still blaze a complaint trail to help officials pursue and stop the scammers. We advise people to file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), your state’s consumer protection division of its Attorney General’s office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Cyber Division—the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)—if scammer information is on the internet. The more complaints these organizations can compile, the sooner they have power to try to stop the scammers from continuing their operations.
- Spread the word. Be sure to let others know to avoid this locksmith scam. Help your friends and family learn from your misfortune.
If It Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” right? After falling victim to a locksmith scam, you will be wiser in the future and know which signs point to a scam. Here are some of the most prevalent things we see typically associated with locksmith scams:
- Advertising with really low service calls, usually anywhere from $15 to $40. Keep in mind, the service-call fee covers our costs to get our professional locksmith to your door, with a little profit. There’s no way that’s covered in $15 to $40, no matter where you live here in Michigan.
- Promising 24-hour service and low prices. Promoting this combination online is akin to a flashing neon sign of scammer. Yes, we at Preferred Safe & Lock have emergency services, but we can’t charge you $15 in the middle of the night to unlock your car keys from your car and still stay in business.
- Answering the phone with “Locksmith” instead of a company name. A legitimate locksmith company answers its phone professionally with its name. If someone doesn’t, don’t ask, “Is this XYZ Company?”, because they will say yes. They are scammers. They lie. Just call someone else.
- Showing up in an unmarked vehicle and/or without a uniform. Showing up to a job in an unmarked vehicle, always with an accompanying story as to why, is a sure sign. Also, our professional locksmiths wear shirts with our Preferred Safe & Lock name on it. We have proper identification.
- Requesting cash or check payment only. This speaks for itself. And if you are intimidated or threatened to pay on the spot in cash, immediately call the police.
To look for a legitimate and certified locksmith, check with American Locksmiths of America (ALOA). They have a Find a Locksmith feature only listing their certified members. We all strive to protect the good work of actual educated, hard-working, and professional locksmiths.
Call Us for All Your Locksmith Needs
There are many telltale signs illustrating something is a locksmith scam. You can look online or call us at 586-757-7742 for more information. We are happy to help you with any locksmith needs or questions you may have. At Preferred Safe & Lock, we want you to rely on us. We work hard so you can.