Everyone Needs a Locksmith
Here’s a statement you can’t deny, everybody at some point in time will end up needing services of a locksmith. Whether it be for a lost car key, being locked out of your house, or to get that safe opened that you just inherited.
Lot Of Fake Locksmiths Online
When you go looking online for a locksmith you are hit with multiple ads and countless listings that show to be in your area but may not actually exist. Google has done some tremendous amount of work to weed out the scam locksmith listings, but they still find a way to get included.
They Manipulate Google Search
These organizations purposely manipulate Google and other internet directories with made up local addresses and local phone numbers to make them look like a local business. But in reality the consumer is actually calling a call center that may not even be located in the states much less their neighborhood.
$45 Quote Turns Into $245
The phone attendants are trained to give out low estimates to lure in the customer to do business with them. These call centers then sell this job to a local scam artist posing as a legitimate locksmith, who then shows up at your home or car. Before you know it the $45 estimate has now turned into a several hundred dollar bill with added unnecessary charges and consumer is left with sub par work and/or parts.
Some States Require Locksmith Licensing
Scammers seem to be a step ahead of Google no matter how hard they try to reduce these unscrupulous listings. It is pretty much left up to the consumer to differentiate the real ones from the fakes and not get ripped off. So, how do you know which company to hire so you won’t be taken advantage of? Well, if you live in Maryland or a hand full of other states (AL, CA, CT, IL, LA, NE, NJ, NC, OK, OR, TN, TX, VA) that require locksmith licensing it may be a little easier.
Clues To Look For When Calling A Locksmith
1. Did the person answer the phone saying “locksmith” or “locksmith service”? Many of the scammers utilize multiple business names and route calls to same call center. If a generic name is used, ask the person for the name of the company.
2. The operator does not seem familiar with your area. It may only be because the person is new to the area but still question why they don’t know the area they serve.
3. Business name is not consistent across various platforms. If the business name is not listed as same on the listing, ads, and website there may be a reason to investigate further. Sometime typos can happen, so don’t discount a locksmith because of a simple typo.
4. If the locksmith you called does not have a location you may want to investigate it more than the ones that do have a physical location. Do Not count out a locksmith simply because they do not have a brick and mortar location, many legitimate locksmiths offer only mobile service.
Check The Locksmith Out Online
1. Even though simply being licensed in the state does not guarantee good work or reasonable prices, it is a starting point. What it does insure is that the company has went through a background and criminal check and was found to be free of criminal activity. First you should check with the local authority in charge of licensing locksmiths in the area to ensure you are dealing with a legitimate company. In the state of Maryland the authority in charge of this is DLLR, and you can easily find out if the company is indeed licensed.
2. Second thing to do is to check to see if the company belongs to ALOA or a local locksmith association (MLA in Maryland). This again does not ensure the quality of work or reasonable pricing but it does show that there is a better chance this company adheres to higher standards. Not all reputable locksmiths belong to an association.
3. Once you have checked the above two factors next should be online reviews of the locksmith you are considering. Even though reviews can be faked, they can’t fake them all on all review website. Easiest way to do this is by adding the word “reviews” after the company name in your favorite search engine. You then want to look through to make sure there aren’t huge differences in the ratings and reviews. If a company does good work overall it will show in the reviews, but do not expect to see all perfect reviews. Even the best locksmith will have some bad reviews because you can’t satisfy everyone as a business. If you see only 5 star reviews there might be a fake review problem.
When the locksmith arrives
1. Most locksmiths use both marked and unmarked vehicles but if your locksmith arrives in an unmarked vehicle don’t hesitate to ask for an ID, business card, or an invoice with printed company name.
2. Ask for an estimate before authorizing work, a reputable locksmith will either give you an estimate before arriving or once on location before starting work.
3. If the locksmith goes straight to the drill without trying to pick the lock, they may not be a trained locksmith and will end up costing you more by having to replace the lock too.
3. If anything makes you uncomfortable, don’t feel obligated to have them perform the service. You have the right to refuse to work with any locksmith.
What to do if you get scammed?
1. If you paid with a credit card call your credit card company and dispute the charges, however, most shady locksmiths will only accept cash.
2. Report them to the consumer protection agency in your state.
3. Report the business to FBI internet crime complaint center.
4. File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and/or state licensing authority if applicable in your state.