20 Oct 2015
There are hundreds - even thousands, of people who have locked themselves out of their homes or cars and then called up a locksmith only to be overcharged or ripped off somehow. In New York, there are several reports of people who've been duped by the several fake locksmiths around the area. So the question is, how do you avoid getting conned by scammers should you ever need a locksmith.
First thing you should know is that the ads in the yellow pages and around the internet can be misleading. Be wary of gigantic eye grabbing ads as most people are susceptible to them since they give the impression of being put up by a reputable company who can afford the ad space.
Fake locksmiths usually pay for large ad space since they know they can make their money back anyway since bigger more visible ads usually draw plenty of customers who never bother doing a background check since anybody looking for a locksmith is usually in a hurry or in the middle of an emergency.
Don't judge a locksmith based on their ad alone. Another thing to note is that fake locksmiths usually place fake addresses on the ad to give the impression of having a legitimate storefront. This is followed up by the way they answer the phone to make it seem as if they have an office. All it really takes is the time to place the effort and they just sit and wait.
This is not to say that all ads are misleading. You just need to be extra vigilant in order to avoid becoming a victim of a locksmith scam. Another thing to look out for is fake locksmiths that piggy back off known legitimate locksmiths and claim to be working for them. This is a ballsy move but it happens so often that it's become a legitimate concern since it puts the reputation of a professional locksmith Alabaster Locks and Key in question and victimizes more people.
So what steps can you take to avoid becoming a victim? For one thing, you need to be aware of this scam and always ask for certification and licensing. Over the phone you can try asking about the locksmith's liability policy. If they don't have any this means you won't be protected against any damages that can occur. If you can, check out the address listed on Google maps just to see if their address matches a physical store.
If you're willing to look for locksmiths before needing one, you can look up records of complaints from consumer reporting agencies. One common scam fake locksmiths use is offering a replacement lock after slightly damaging the lock they were trying to open. The replacement lock is usually of poor quality and they overcharge for installing and replacing.
Whenever the locksmith arrives, get a written quote before any work is done. If the locksmith refuses or if the charges suddenly go up significantly from what was previously discussed, you might be better off refusing and calling a different locksmith, frustrating it may be.