Being locked out of one’s home or car is one of the most frustrating events in any person’s life. The inconvenience, stress, and sometimes embarrassment caused by the incident can only be surpassed by the potentially dangerous scenario the person might be in. Needless to say, it can be hard to pay enough attention to a series of details when looking for the nearest emergency lockout service in your area to get you out of the pickle. This can easily lead to missing red flags and send you right into the arms of a scammer.
Sadly, locksmith scams are still part of the reality we live in and they occur more frequently than you might imagine. Knowing how to recognize potentially suspicious behavior before agreeing to any locksmithing job can, however, make all the difference. To come to your help, our experts have compiled a set of tips and guidelines that should steer you clear of con-artists in the industry. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Dishonest Locksmiths Usually Charge Very Low Rates
At least they do so in theory, on their websites, or when offering quotes by phone. In reality, many locksmith scams unfold with the locksmiths charging double or triple the originally quoted price. If you have come across some ridiculously low lock change, key cutting, or emergency lockout prices compared to other services in your area, consider it a big red flag. These unrealistically small rates (usually in the form of “$15 and up”) are usually used as bait meant to draw you in and convince you to hire the respective company. The “and up” part of the quote will usually lead to the locksmith charging hundreds of dollars extra compared to the original quote.
What you can do:
Do minimum research before hiring a new locksmith and know how to ballpark the average price for the service you want to hire. While extremely competitive on their own, locksmith companies usually need to cover the same types of costs and expenses with their mobile crews, personnel, vans, fuel, blank keys, and equipment. This means their prices cannot be on opposite polls. Make sure to keep your cool and familiarize yourself with the prices in your area or city. You can do this by asking for several quotes from different locksmiths or by searching for dedicated resources online. Remember the rates will differ from one state to another, between cities, and even from neighborhood to neighborhood.
They Provide a Generic Name
If a locksmith’s website or customer support team that you contacted via phone can only provide you with an extremely vague, generic name for their business (in the form of “locksmith” and “service”) or no name at all, consider it another question mark.
What you can do:
Search for the repetitive locksmith website online, using official resources such as the Better Business Bureau or private forums and social media pages. This should help you learn if they are in fact honest, reliable, and trustworthy, or if they are hiding behind their respective websites or phone numbers.
Slow Response Times, Shady Appearance/Behavior
The locksmith you are thinking about hiring promises a lightning-fast response time of only 10 minutes. In reality, a few hours pass and there is still no sign of them. When the crew does show up, they are impolite and seem in a rush to take your money and be on their way. Their van is not clearly marked and the locksmiths are not wearing any branded uniforms or ID badges to prove they are in fact the company’s employees.
What you can do:
Look for pictures of their business and technicians on their website and social media before hiring them. Give them a call and ask what their uniforms look like and whether they will be driving marked vans. You could also ask to see their proof of license in you live in one of the US states where licensing is a mandatory requirement for locksmithing, including California, Illinois, Alabama, and Louisiana.
The Locksmiths Start Making Excuses
Scammers will usually describe the lock they are asked to fix or replace as a “commercial/high security” that cannot be picked. They will also let you know the only solution is for them to drill it. In return, this will lead to your lock getting destroyed. They will also present you with a lock that is cheaper in price and of poor quality while overcharging you for it.
What you can do:
Only hire experienced locksmiths who are licensed and authorized to pick any lock using advanced, non-invasive tools that will cause zero damage to the lock. A good locksmith should have no problem picking any type and model of lock, no matter how old or new, without wreaking havoc on it.
Keep in mind that while there are still plenty of bad apples in the basket, most of today’s locksmiths are reliable, trustworthy, honest, and efficient. Just stay vigilant and keep a close eye on red flags so you can benefit from the best services.