Most people contact a locksmith after an emergency lockout. They can’t get into their home or car, and it may be freezing cold or raining. The lock must be opened as quick as possible, which opens an opportunity for scam artists.
There are plenty of legitimate, professional and highly competent locksmiths, yet it’s important to be aware of locksmith scams because they exist.
Legitimate locksmiths can pick virtually any lock, have excellent records with the Better Business Bureau and belong to professional organizations, such as the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA), which requires members to pass background checks. They typically have a physical business address and a van or car that is decaled with their business’s name. Legitimate locksmiths are licensed in the state they work and carry proof of their license with them.
Fraudulent locksmiths may have no license or insurance. They often have no physical address and run their business from an unmarked vehicle. In Internet advertisements, they often provide a phony business address. Some will use the addresses or other businesses, such a pizza parlors or barber shops. Other times, they will simply invent an address.
A quick Google search on the address should reveal if a phony address is being used, which surely indicates this locksmith is not on the up and up. A Google search will also show if they have a professional website with contact information indicating that they are the real deal.
Locksmith Phone Numbers
Jim Hancock, of the ALOA, warns against trusting locksmiths who have toll free numbers. Most of these are scam artists who get business through a call center. Legitimate locksmiths provide the number to their business and have an employee answer the calls or take the calls themselves. Often, when customers call the 800 number, the operator quotes an outrageously low price, such as $15. Anyone quoting lock out service for $15 can’t be legitimate. The expense of the trip would outweigh such a small fee.
In cases such as these, the scam artist will arrive, claim the lock can’t be picked and insist on selling you an overpriced new lock. Always avoid locksmiths who quote prices that sound too good to be true. They are. These are bait-and-switch operations meant to sell you replacement locks you don’t need.
So, how do you ensure that the next locksmith you call is a legitimate professional? Thankfully, there are several ways to verify a locksmith’s credentials.
Best strategy: Find a reputable locksmith before you need one.
As we’ve discussed, the urgency created by a lockout provides opportunity to bad actors. They know you’re in need, and they figure you won’t know enough about locksmithing to know a new lock isn’t needed. To avoid falling into this trap, find a reputable locksmith before you need one. Then, when an emergency strikes, you’ll know who to call.
There are a number of ways to find good locksmiths:
• Get references from friends or neighbors
• Find them through the Better Business Bureau
• Search the Associated Locksmiths of America website at aloa.org
Also, watch out for red flags:
• Answering the phone “locksmith services” instead of with a specific company name
• Using an unmarked car or van
• No company address
• No proof of licensure
Hiring an ALOA member ensures the locksmith is licensed and has passed all necessary background checks. ALOA members must carry their membership cards on all service calls. Customers can verify their credentials by calling the ALOA at 214-819-9733.
Locksmith scams have proliferated in the age of the Internet, where it is much easier for fake locksmiths to masquerade as legitimate professionals. These quick-buck artists quote impossibly low fees and then, after examining the lock, declare that it must be replaced at a gigantic cost. Real locksmiths never behave this way. They always quote a reasonable price and can pick any lock. To ensure you have a good experience next time you need a locksmith, get references from professional organizations and have a legitimate locksmith’s number ready before an emergency strikes.
As a family owned and operated locksmith business in Michigan, Action Locksmith is licensed and trusted. Our hard work, dedication and experience in virtually all facets of locksmithing has made us one of the best locksmith companies in Michigan for over 30 years!
We handle everything form re-keying to door repair and installation, access control, camera systems and correct code violations on doors and locks. Action Locksmith proudly supports Michigan businesses and offers special pricing and services for vets, seniors and civil servants. Call us today for a security consultation of your home or business!