Locksmith Fraud and Scams
With any hired service, consumers need to be aware of scams, fraud, and otherwise unprofessional behavior. Locksmith fraud and scam has become out of control, but there are ways to avoid a disaster by knowing what you are looking for.
At Cheap Lock & Key, we want to help consumers become more aware by sharing some basic guidelines to avoid frauds and scams when hiring a locksmith.
Research and ask questions before hiring!
Locksmith scams typically target homeowners and auto owners who are in emergency situations and need immediate assistance. Before rushing to the first locksmith you see online, stop, think, and determine their legitimacy.
Find a local locksmith.
How do you know your locksmith is truly local? Call and ask them detailed questions. When the locksmith answers the phone they should answer with a specific name. Be wary of general answers and information. Check the reviews. A legitimate locksmith that is local and well known will have very specific and available reviews. Do your research and find out exactly what kind of company you are hiring. Search for the locksmith's address ahead of time. Get them to confirm their address while on the phone. A scam locksmith will relay false information or seem unsure.
Ask the locksmith for ID and licensure.
A certified locksmith will have a license and ID number that is verifiable (Cheap Lock & Key's Hillsborough County license is HCLOC14021). There are 15 states currently that require locksmith licenses (AL, CA, IL, LA, NJ, NC, OK, TN, and TX) and any locksmiths within those states without credentials are illegally practicing. Be diligent in asking and checking for this important information before hiring.
Service questions to ask a locksmith before hiring.
After you have verified that the locksmith you're hiring is local and licensed, you'll want to ask them questions about the services they offer and how they are executed. Here are some questions to ask them about the services they will render:
- How will you get into the residence/vehicle?
- Will you need to drill the lock (if non-auto)?
- Do you need a picture of the lock?
- Can you give me an estimate? What factors will cause this price to change?
- What is the name of the locksmith that will be coming?
Estimates, Additional Charges, & Fluctuating Bids
Another key component to trusting your locksmith and choosing one that is not fraudulent is their billing/quoting practices. Typically, scams and frauds will charge low costs during the estimate, generally between $15-$40. During the job, however, these locksmiths will price gouge and claim the job costs more or is "more complicated".
Reputable locksmiths generally charge a minimum of $60 for basic and simple services. These costs are typical and help locksmiths pay for tools, licensing, training, and transportation. Anything lower than the average of $60 should lead consumers to be wary of the services they are contracting.
Find out if your locksmith has additional charges above standard services. A reputable locksmith will be able to tell you if there are extra charges for instances such as:
- Emergency services
- Service call minimums before work is charged
Be on the lookout for scammers! A scam of fraud will try to claim your lock is obsolete or needs to be replaced, and charge hundreds for a lock they claim is "high-security". A reputable locksmith will be able to tell you your exact additional charges ahead of time and have the tools and skills necessary to fix almost any lock on the market.
Finding a trustworthy locksmith can take some time and patience, but with research, you should be able to find a local, trustworthy locksmith. Check reviews, ask for local recommendations, and always ask questions of any services you contract for your home or auto locksmith needs.