Run a search for “locksmiths,” and you have a good chance of clicking a locksmith scam. The locksmith industry is one of the industries hardest hit. I’ve even shown up to jobs where one of the scammers has shown up before me on my ticket!
Find a local locksmith before you need one
Locksmith scammers know that most people call a locksmith when they are in an emergency situation. They are praying on your stress and fears. Here are some tips to help you avoid making a bad situation worse.
Many consumers think they’re doing the right thing by searching online for a local locksmith. But what they may not realize is that locksmith scammers are gaming those online directories by imitating legitimate local locksmiths. (Angies List)
Find and use a local locksmith
When doing your research, call the locksmith and listen carefully. If they answer with a generic introduction such as, “locksmith,” they probably aren’t local. Ask questions such as where they are located and request an address. Check online reviews – Yelp is a good place. Here’s a link to Sacramento’s downtown locksmiths on Yelp – we’re pretty high on the list and have excellent reviews.
Verify locksmith’s licenses
Locksmiths deal with security and as such, we have to have various licenses to work. It is a crime to advertise or work as a locksmith without proper credentials in California. We carry several licenses that allow us to do both residential and commercial work. Locksmith scammers probably don’t have licenses.
Ask for an estimate
Many scammers will offer you a low estimate of around $15 – $40 to show up and then run the classic bait-and-switch when they arrive. Never hire a locksmith who doesn’t give you a serious estimate. The average cost for a reputable locksmith is going to run you around $60, to start.
Changing quotes after work is a bad sign
bad locksmiths may demand payment after doing poor work and even inflate the bill. In some cases they will threaten to call the police or file a lawsuit. When that happens, call their bluff. Let them call the police, or offer to call for them. A reputable company won’t drastically change a quoted price.
The people who are making those threats generally have the most to lose, because they’re not operating within the law, and their actions are not ethical. They’re bullying,” Coffman says – Attorney General, Colorado.
Don’t let the locksmith drill your lock
Locksmiths who recommend or insist on drilling or replacing the lock are probably lying to you. Drilling is usually needed to open high-security locks. Experienced locksmiths can unlock almost any door without drilling. This is also a ploy to destroy any evidence.
High-security locks are made to stop people from bumping or picking a lock. They require specialized keys. Replacing these types of locks typically can run several hundred dollars.
Questions to ask before you let a locksmith start working
- Where are you located?
- How will you get into the house?
- Will you need to drill my lock? Can you tell me your process?
- Do you need a picture of the lock?
- Can you give me an estimate?
- What factors will cause this price to change?
- Do you require cash, or can I pay with a check or credit card?
- What’s the name of the locksmith who will be coming?