When you encounter a locksmith emergency, lockouts, lost car keys etc, its easy to dial the first google listing that comes up. Be vigilant however, because often enough what you’ll find is a locksmith scam.
Wikipedia summed this up as “A locksmith scam is a scam involving fake business listings for cheap locksmith services that, once called out, overcharge the customer. The scam targets people who call a locksmith out of desperation, usually because of being locked out of their car or premises.
The scams work by flooding business-finding services with a multitude of faux business listings. All of the phone numbers of these listings eventually link back to a single operation, usually without a legitimate address or license. The descriptions will be similar to legitimate locksmiths, accompanied by similarly misleading advertising, and usually quoting an unusually low price. The person who turns up may perform shoddy work and then overcharge for the service and parts. Since the customer never knows the real business or people involved, at best they can ask for a single phony listing to be removed – a process that takes time and does not negatively impact the scammer much, as they can simply create more fake listings.
1. ID – legitimate locksmiths typically have some form of ID. For our company we have a photo id containing our full name, Company Name and telephone number. I also tend to carry my Massachusetts Locksmith Association ID. Even if that’s not available, seeing a drivers license at least advises you of who is there.
2. Branding – Business cards, Apparel, ID, and vehicle marking are all forms of branding. We utilize them all. This helps identify us to customers and Law Enforcement. Local companies are typically pretty excited to advertise their brand.
3. Avoid suspiciously low prices. A service fee of 15 to 40 dollars doesn’t exist. Between the overhead of stock, tools, gas, vehicle upkeep and insurance it wouldn’t allow for a successful business. “Companies” that advertise it typically engage in bait and switch tactics, that is once on site they price gouge, which is usually effective for emergency services. Typical reasoning is high security locks which isn’t likely.
4. Avoid Super generic or no name companies. Town Name Locksmith is an example. Companies that answer as generic “Locksmith” are typically call centers operations that cover hundreds, possibly thousands of shell locations. Local companies are proud of their names and not shy about saying them.
5. There is NO locksmith licensing in MA. If you ask a locksmith company if they are licensed MA locksmiths and they say yes, you’ve already been lied to. It doesn’t exist.
6. Avoid toll free numbers. Local businesses tend to have local numbers.
7. Find a reputable locksmith ahead of time. 24/7 service is usually something to look for if you’re worried about emergency work for nights, weekends etc. and make sure they cover where you live or work.
8. Finally, if someone shows up with no trade specific tools or knowledge, I’d advise not letting them proceed. An individual coming to a lockout with nothing more than a giant pair of pliers, an oversized screwdriver, a hammer and a cheap drill has no business in this business. Someone who can’t speak about the trade intelligently is a red flag.
9. Avoid generic poorly written invoices. Even when I used generic invoices I’d have to spend 10 minutes filling in my business information and the customer information. You should have a clear record of who was out, how to contact them, company name etc. Also ask for a card. Those should match.
Good questions to ask include
-What is the name of the locksmith who is coming?
-Are you insured? (This should always be a firm yes)
-Can you give me an estimate? What would change that? (Its not too difficult to get a pretty on point estimate. The more information the locksmith has the better the estimate. Deviations from the estimate should be easy to explain.)
-What payment options are available, Do you take credit card? (At this point and time, who doesn’t? Especially for emergency services.)
-For lockouts; How are you going to get into the house/business? Will you have to drill the lock? (To be honest I may destroy a lock 1 out of 25 times for whatever reason. Either it’s in bad condition which makes it hard to pick or bypass, very rarely its high security, most often it’s when the hardware malfunctions and doesn’t open with the appropriate key.) No one should damage the door or do anything they wouldn’t be able to remedy right then. It’s a pretty big no no to leave an entrance unsecured for a locksmith. If anyone’s initial response to opening a lockout situation is destructive entry, that’s a bad sign.)
JD Locksmith Solutions provides 24/7 service and upfront pricing to the entirety of Bristol, Norfolk, Barnstable and Plymouth Counties. We are a local two-man company with no turnover. We are forward with our pricing and explanations and invite all inquires at (508)535-5625