How to Avoid Locksmith Scams
The locksmith scam epidemic is well known and widespread. Generally, in the last few years, many dishonest and crooked individuals and companies have penetrated the locksmith industry. (Check out this link to read an article about it in the New York Times - https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/31/business/fake-online-locksmiths-may-be-out-to-pick-your-pocket-too.html ).
Pretending to be a local company, these scammers will use every dirty trick in the book to attract business from innocent consumers.
Here are a few key points regarding this issue, detailing how these scammers operate:
1. Bait and Switch– fake locksmiths will advertise incredibly low prices to attract customers, and will often charge huge sums of money once they arrive at the job site.
2. Unlicensed - these fake companies will usually employ untrained and not skilled technicians, who don't even have a locksmith license and are not legally allowed to practice the business.
3. Cash only - since these business owners are aware that some customers will attempt to dispute their ludacris charges, they will always have an excuse as to why they cannot accept payment by credit card.
4. Unmarked - the average fake locksmith will usually arrive without any markings on his car, no uniform, and no name badge.
What can you do to protect yourself?
The scammers in the industry rely on the fact that when in an emergency, the consumer will not bother to be diligent when choosing the service provider.
However, in order to avoid dealing with fake locksmiths, try to follow these simple guidelines:
1. Always get an estimate over the phone. Most locksmith jobs are repetitive, therefore the office should be able to give you a rough range of the price you are about to pay.
2. Ask questions. Check if the technician is licensed, how long has the company been in business, and do they accept credit card payments.
3. When the technician arrives, ask him to present his locksmith license. Never let an unlicensed technician perform any work. Do not let the technician perform any work before you have a written statement from him stating what the total charge will be.
4. After the technician completes the work, be sure to retain a copy of the receipt, along with the locksmith's full name.
Use common sense and due diligence when in an emergency. Only trust local and licensed locksmiths.
The best practice is to find a locksmith you trust BEFORE being locked out. Research local business in your area, and save their information.
There are many honest and licensed locksmiths (like Gotham Locksmiths NYC) out there, be sure to locate one or two.