How to Avoid Locksmith Scams

How to Avoid Locksmith Scams

How to Avoid Locksmith Scams

This article offers tips for hiring a reputable locksmith and avoiding scam locksmith companies.

So you need a locksmith. Which locksmith can you hire without fear of being ripped off? Let’s look at the task of hiring a locksmith.

When you need a locksmith you probably have somewhat of an urgent need. This can lead you to do a quick online search, then hire whoever says they can get there fast and promises you a low price. This is typically how you fall into the hands of scam operation. Sure, you need a locksmith right-away but you don’t need a hack who has the sole intent of walking away with a lot of your money.

In a recent article on Scam-Detector.com, locksmith scams were illustrated in this way, “The scam works like this: Let’s say you are in need of a locksmith and find an ad for a technician advertising services for “only $25”. You hire them, but at the end of the service you’re charged $450. When you try to argue they say the $25 is just the callout charge and doesn’t include the labor. However, this labor suddenly becomes much more “complicated” than it should be. If you refuse to pay, they threaten to call the police and even have the guts to ask you to go to an ATM to get cash out. There are cases when crooks even charge over $500.”.2

About the Scam Operators

Locksmith scammers make life hard for legitimate locksmith companies. Unfortunately, their is hardly a limit to the number of scammers working the internet to find their next victim. Many of these scam operations use things like “Google Ads” to be found at the top of search pages. In fact, per Wikipedia, in an Arizona lawsuit Atlas Locksmith Solution “disclosed it subscribed to 115 telephone numbers in the Phoenix Metropolitan Market, assigned each of those numbers to an address where ATLAS had no location or legitimate business interest, then multiplied those phone number/address combinations by 10 different company names on a spreadsheet causing Verital to publish 1,150 separate and distinct fraudulent telephone listings “1

The lesson here is that being listed at the top of Google does not mean a company is legitimate, honest, or even good at what they do.

A lot of these companies that advertise on Google are not even located in your area. In almost every instance, the person that arrives is not even a professionally trained locksmith. Keep in mind, the goal of the scammers is to make a lot of money, not to necessarily do quality locksmithing. Simply put, locksmith scam call-centers take your call and then get a local “guy in a truck” to come out and pop you for a lot of money.

Will You Become a Victim of More Crime?

If you make the unfortunate mistake of hiring one of these scam operators you may be setting yourself up for future criminal activity. The person who works on your locks can keep a copy of the key. This means they can later steal your car, enter your hom or office.

Confirm You’re Calling a Local Locksmith

When you call a locksmith company you need to be able to at least do a quick test to see if they are legitimate. You may want to have a few short calls to check out locksmith companies, then call back the one that seems most legit.

The 3 Minute Test

When you call a scammer you need to get info. They want to avoid questions and just book your business. Here are some quick questions to ask:

  • What is your companies official business name?
  • Is your company registered in the State of Georgia?
  • What is your office’s physical address?
  • How long has your company been in business in Georgia?

Further Checks to Qualify Before You Hire a Locksmith

Verify Licensing and Check Reviews

Never assume that just because somebody has a phone number and website that they are a legitimate business. Who you hire can make for a great or a terrible experience. When you sign your name to approve and autorize work you’ve basically turned over your credit card limit to the locksmith. A disreputable locksmith will pile-on extras, meaning what you thought was going to be $45 fee might end up being a hefty bill of $400 or far more.

Check reviews and references! Carefully check reviews and references online. A locksmith company with a 4-stars and above rating is ideal, and especially if they have over 40 reviews. Any locksmith with only a few reviews should raise eyebrows. It is often difficult to get satisfied customers to take time to write reviews. However, it’s extremely common for all types of businesses to have reviews written by friends, family members and marketing people. Note that things in a business change, reviews from years ago may not reflect current business practices (good or bad).

If you found a locksmith via a Google Ad, you should see if they have multiple listings on sites like Yelp, Manta, Facebook, etc. Scammers usually don’t take time to develop a true internet presence. A legitimate company wants to be listed in as many places as possible, and their info is consistent from site to site.

When requesting locksmith services do not give them any credit card information over the phone. Let them know that when they arrive you need to see a copy of their State business registration, local business license, and proof of insurance. If any company balks at this you should disengage and find another locksmith.

Locksmith Certification Credentials

In 2019, there are only a handful of states which have laws requiring anyone providing locksmith services to have specialized credentials. Georgia is NOT one of the states with such laws. You should ask any locksmith you may hire where they were trained to be a locksmith, and how long they have been in the locksmith business.

Besides customary business credentials, you should look for other signs that help to qualify a locksmith as legitimate. A few things to look at are:

  • The service vehicle is marked with the company’s information
  • The locksmith is wearing company branded attire.
  • The locksmith has business cards, work orders, etc. branded with the company information.
  • All information, from vehicle signs to paperwork, have the same business name and location information.
  • The locksmith (including service vehicle) seem to be well equipped with professional toosl and equipment.

About the Locksmith Estimate or Quote

Firstly, understand there is a huge difference between an “e;estimate”e; and a “e;quote”e;. A quote is a firm price offer for a defined set of services and/or products. An estimate is just that, a ballpark figure for what the services and/or products may cost. Keep in mind that with any quote or estimate there are always terms and statements that leave open the possibility for extra charges.

Common Scam Locksmith Tricks and Ripoffs

Firstly, if the price seems to good to be true, it almost certainly is a scam. If they advertise prices $29.99 you should walk away. You simply cannot operate a legitimate mobile business for such a ridiculously low price. Any company offering extremely low prices is going to pile-on any of a list of “thngs that are not included” in their $29.99 price. You can expect highly inflated per-mile travel charges, out-of-area charges, after-hours charges, and charges for “extra things you needed”.

Yes, there are plenty of legitimate reasons that a job may cost more than originally anticipated. For example, if you tell a locksmith you want them to install a lock on a door in your home they assume it’s a normal wood door. If they arrive to discover a steel door that is a situation that truly does require more work.

The common consumer does not have the knowledge to know what is normal and what is not. This is why you need to make certian you hire a reputable locksmith company.


This article was written as part of our consumer advocacy series. For more information, or if you have questions, call Jose Cajigas at United Locksmith, LLC in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

FOOTNOTES

  • 1 Wikipedia, “Locksmith Scam”, September 5, 2019, Available from Wikipedia
  • 2 Scam Detector, “Beware of the 24 Hour Locksmith Scam”, November 13, 2018, Available from Scam Detector

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