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Experts Tips on How to Avoid Locksmith Scams

Your home or your car is more than just physical entities you use daily. They are extensions of you. Ideally, you need total access to both at all time. A lock-in or lock-out can frazzle you, throwing you into immediate panic mode. You reach for your phone and hastily search out listings for a locksmith. And with a single dial, your problems begin.

locksmith scams

The Better Business Bureau warns that every day, some home and car owners are falling prey to unscrupulous locksmiths. They prey on vulnerable people whose immediate wish is to regain access to their home or car. However, you're here, and that means you know better than to fall for a locksmith fraud. These tips will help you sidestep locksmith swindles.

Know your lock

“Of course, I know my lock,” you say.

One of the oldest scams in locksmith services involves your ‘emergency locksmith’ coming to you and start rumbling about you having a high-security or foreign lock. This way, they follow up suggesting that this specific lock will require an ‘additional tool’ or service. Eventually, they will charge you extra, usually 3 or 4 times the amount they had listed.

To make sure you stop this petty run-around in its tracks, always know your lock. That way, you can inform the locksmith what they will be working on, and you can get correct estimates even in emergency cases.

Have contacts before you need them

At some point, you will experience a problem with the locks. And since no one anticipates such a scenario, you are most likely to be highly reactive. Your attention will be all over the place and this is the loophole scam artists are looking to exploit.

Once you move to an area, take advantage of the time to research on reputable locksmiths. Once you find one, establish a rapport. You might want to visit their site, know a few of their service people. A locksmith on speed dial will insulate you from having to make rush calls that leave you susceptible to not-so-clever ruses.

Check documentation

Due to the prominence of locksmith scams, some states require that any locksmith companies register and get licensed by the relevant authority before they can get service permits. Currently, only 14 states require proof of licensure for their locksmiths. These states are

  • Illinois
  • Alabama
  • Nevada
  • California
  • Virginia
  • Connecticut
  • Louisiana
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • Tennessee
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Texas

However, if you are outside any of these states, it is likely that a reputable locksmith will be registered with an equally reliable company or with the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA)

advanced locksmith

Ask for estimates

In case of an emergency, you will most likely reach out online or over the phone. Most scammers will quote an enticingly low price. Their ad will read “for as little as $10”. Truthfully, there is no way for a locksmith business to stay afloat offering that kind of price. If the price in the ad is too low, it is a sign you are about to be a victim of another old service scam, the bait and switch.

This scam involves the service person roping you in with a ridiculously low price. When they arrive, they pile on additional charges and stick you with a bill that is about ten times the amount they posted. To avoid this scam, always ask for an estimate before agreeing to anything else. If the service person cannot give you a sensible cost estimate, get another locksmith.

Do they insist on a replacement?

Another scam involves a locksmith coming to you and after checking your lock insists that you need to change it. Coincidentally, they will always seem to have a ‘newer, more secure, high-tech’ lock in their service vehicle. If a locksmith insists on a replacement, it is a red flag that they just intend to swindle you of your hard-earned cash.

The truth is, any locksmith worth his salt will know how to pick any lock. Although some locks such as a may need replacements, most locks just need to be picked.

Additionally, most scammers will immediately insist on drilling. This is a scam to make you think your lock is more complicated than it is and drilling will cost you ‘only a little more.’ Most ordinary locks don’t need to be drilled. Unless you have a Quickset SmartKey deadbolt, don’t fall victim to this age-old scam.

Discuss any charges before the start of work

A scam artist smells your desperation. And they are counting on it. They will offer to quickly work on your lock, throw a few industry terms in there and before you know it, you're forking out extra hundreds in hidden charges. To make sure you don’t fall for this, have the locksmith break down any costs before they start the job. Fees will include mileage, labor and emergency hours.

Always insist on receipts

From the moment a scam starts, there is the likelihood of the matter heading into legal waters. In this case, before they start any work, have the service person sign some document that shows proof of work to be carried out. Afterward, assuming you have managed to avoid all the pitfalls and you are satisfied with the work, have an official receipt for all the services rendered.

At this point, your service person may insist on cash. These are the vestigial stages of a scam. Assuming you have their name, address and tracking information, a paper trail should enable you to claim if you follow legal redress in case of a scam.

To avail yourself of expert locksmith care from certified locksmiths, contact