Locksmith scams have increased rapidly globally. In fact, these scams are the most common and the biggest frauds due to the necessity of a locksmith service. There are very few companies that take advantage of individuals that are locked out of their vehicles or houses. However, con-artists use the internet to capitalize on their vulnerability to make money quickly. Majority of these con-artists may show up but charge more money than what they advertise.
Perhaps, you are familiar with the phrase “$15 locksmith service”. Well, there is nothing like this. This is actually a bait-and-switch tactic that scammers use in major cities. They use the phrase to lure individuals that need locksmith help to contact them. Scammers use this phrase to make innocent people think that they will be charged $15 for the locksmith service that they hire. Unfortunately, they end up being billed much more when the scammers factor in the costs of labor, parts, and special charges.
Nevertheless, it is possible to avoid a locksmith scam. You just need to be cautious, research upfront, pay attention and plan ahead. Here are 10 tips to avoid a locksmith scam that should guide you.
The most important tip to avoid a locksmith is to conduct an extensive research in advance. Get the phone number of a reputable locksmith to ensure that you are ready for any eventuality. For instance, search for a locksmith in your locality. Call them first and ask questions over the phone. Get initial information including whether they offer emergency services. Save the phone number of a reputable local locksmith. This will make getting an emergency locksmith easier because you will just call them. What’s more, check the address that the locksmith advertises online. This will enable you to determine whether the locksmith is running a truly legitimate business.
Don’t let a locksmith come to your home and start offering their service without giving you an estimate. Always ask for an estimate over the phone before you even meet the locksmith. Most locksmiths guarantee $15 to $25. However, don’t believe these prices. In fact, a locksmith that guarantees you this fixed price is not right. Therefore, take this price as a red flag. Find out about the labor costs, service fees, and emergency costs. Know the expenditures in full before you let the locksmith start working on your vehicle or home. What’s more, compare the estimate and the actual cost after the work. If there is a significant difference, talk to the locksmith’s main office. Essentially, phone estimate should match the onsite estimate. What’s more, the estimate should cover labor, parts, and transport fee. Dishonest locksmiths charge hidden fees before they even start the work. This is a red flag to watch out for when hiring a locksmith.
Ask the technician to identify themselves before they start the work. Being suspicious upfront is okay. You don’t want a random stranger to start working on your locks or vehicle. It’s therefore important that you ask the locksmith to identify themselves upfront. For instance, ask the locksmith to show you their ID card or certification to prove that they are really who they claim to be. You can even ask them to show you their business card. Most legit locksmiths provide valid IDs to prove their identity. These are the experts that you can rely on to avoid a locksmith scam.
If someone that claims to be a locksmith shows up in a van that is not branded with the company name, be cautious. A legit locksmith should show up in a service vehicle that is marked with the name of the company that they work for. Legit locksmith firms have phone numbers, brand names, and logos on their service vans. Their technicians also put on uniform with logos and name tags. Someone that shows up without uniform and in an unmarked van is a red flag.
A common sign that a locksmith is not legit is charging a conspicuously low quote or fee. When a company charges you a flat fee of $15 to $25, be wary. In most cases, locksmith services cost more than this price. Therefore, a reliable locksmith will factor in the cost of transport, labor, and parts before they give you a quote. And because the needs of clients vary, a reliable locksmith can’t charge a flat fee. Even if a locksmith promises you this flat rate, the onsite fee will be more.
A locksmith that uses generic phrases to answer all your questions is most likely a scam. Such phrases include “locksmith”, “locksmith services” and “locksmith always at your service”. A reliable locksmith should use a specific name for their business. In fact, honest and legit locksmiths have a brand name that enables them to stand out. Therefore, avoid companies that give generic phrase answers.
To avoid a locksmith scam, engage service of a locksmith company that has 5 star ratings and reviews on Yelp, Google, and Better Business Bureau. You won’t be wrong if you choose a company that other clients have reviewed positively. Once you have identified a locksmith company with 5 star ratings and positive reviews, ask some questions. For instance, find out whether the quoted price will be final or you will pay more for a house or car lockout service. If a locksmith can’t give a fixed fee for opening a home or car, be cautious. Also find out whether the locksmith is licensed to operate in your area. Additionally, ask whether the locksmiths are employees of a company or subcontractors. Don’t forget that knowing what to be wary of is your best protection against locksmith scam. Therefore, don’t be afraid to ask questions and be informed before you make your hiring decision.
Any locksmith that tells you that your locks should be replaced and drilled is a scam. That’s because an experienced locksmith has the skills and tools to unlock any door. Therefore, if a locksmith suggests drilling of your lock, don’t allow them to do it. It is highly possible that they want to scam you and get more money. Legit and reputable locksmiths have undergone training and acquired the right tools to unlock different doors. No matter how old or new your lock is, experienced locksmiths will unlock it without damaging your door. Therefore, be wary of a locksmith that suggests replacement or drilling of your locks.
If the locksmith insists on being paid in cash, be cautious because they are most likely trying to scam you. Essentially, all locksmith companies allow their customers to pay in different methods including cash, credit and check. If a locksmith insists that you pay for their service in cash only, they are most likely not legit. Therefore, before you hire the service of a locksmith, ask about their payment methods upfront. An ideal locksmith company should allow you several payment options. What’s more, reliable locksmith companies have information about their acceptable payment methods on their websites.
When looking for a locksmith, you most probably use a search engine like Google. Unfortunately, even scammers are ranking on search engine results pages. In fact, if you have set your phone in a way that enables Google to identify your location, you might be giving your location away to scammers. These can show up even before you hire them. This is not uncommon. Upon their arrival, scammers will coerce you to pay for their trip charge since they have showed up. To avoid this, don’t just call the first locksmith that shows up in your search results. Instead, take time to find out more about the locksmiths and their service.
Don’t be a victim of locksmith scam. Always remember that when the deal is too good, you should pause and think. Also remember that locksmith scammers target people that are most vulnerable. They will be easily available when you need immediate assistance or during an emergency.
You might think that using the internet to search for a locksmith is the best way to go. Nevertheless, you may realize that locksmith scammers have become experts in internet marketing. They are now ranking at the top of online directories just like legit local locksmiths. Most locksmith scammers do not have local shops. They just use phones, computers and the internet to scam unsuspecting individuals. Some of them don’t even have locksmith skills. They just copy the information that legit locksmiths share online with their clients and prospects. Fortunately, you can catch scammers if you are careful by asking the right questions. Take time to conduct some research before you hire a locksmith.
Bear in mind the fact that there are genuine and reputable locksmith companies. These are run by professionals that are genuinely interested in helping you out during your worst moments and anytime you need locksmith assistance. They also charge reasonable fees for quality services. These are the locksmiths to look for and call when you need locksmith assistance.