Locksmith Scams

Updates:

1) Some of the latest scams on places like google and craigslist, etc. You call a number from an ad and ask "how much to rekey my house" and the operator says " it's $19 for the technician to come out, once on site he'll tell you how much for everything" (this is the hook). If you ask for a quote the operator will tell you something like this, "lockouts start at $15, rekeys start at $12, keys start at $1.50" (this is the catch). So now you're thinking "well, this isn't going to cost me very much" so you go ahead and hire their service. Now when the tech arrives he'll look at what needs to be done and then quotes a very high, exorbitant price upwards of 3 to 4 times more than what a real local locksmith would charged (this is the scam). If you called for a rekey he'll say something like "your locks are special and require more time and special tools so it's going to cost more, like $45 per lock". Even if your locks are a cheap brand or very easy to rekey they'll tell you this. I've actually heard of people being charged upwards of $100 per lock, so be careful.
This scam works because the tech is already there and gambles on the fact that you don't know you're being overcharged. Remember this saying  "The Cheapest locksmith can and will be your greatest headache".  Don't fall for this scam, always get a quote for how much it's going to cost upfront and don't settle for a vague estimate something like "it starts at $12 but the tech has to be there to quote an actual price". That's how they get you, you're less likely to send away a tech thats already there verses hearing high prices over the phone and hanging up. If you use one of these services and feel that you are being scammed, fire the person and call the police. Most of these people are unlicensed and don't want to deal with the authorities.

2) There are no national locksmith companies. There are only nation wide locksmith dispatch companies. What this means for you is, these dispatch companies DO NOT employ locksmiths. They simply take your information and sell it to local providers in your area. These local providers pay the dispatch company a weekly or monthly fee for these leads and it is up to the provider to charge whatever they need to cover their cost and make a profit. Some of these dispatch companies can charge up to $2000.00 per week per provider. The problem with this is there's no control over the service providers. You don't know who this person or company is. Are they a licensed locksmith or just some "Joe" off the street? And not being employed by this dispatch company, you have no recourse when problems arise. Try to get them to fix a broken car window after a botched lockout attempt or maybe replace your shattered sliding glass door after they broke it. 

3) Real locksmiths, people who are certified through a locksmith school, work for real local locksmith companies and must be licensed and insured by such companies. Scammers and criminals can't be hired by real local locksmith companies and usually work for dispatch services because of their lack of back round checks, license and insurance requirements. These "service providers" lack any formal training, most are so unskilled that they can barely perform the most basic locksmith service. You have to be careful when shopping for a locksmith. There are literally hundreds of these scam locksmith ad's out there and more popping up everyday. The problem is getting so bad that they're actually forcing the real locksmiths out of business.

The Home lockout scam;
This is the latest scam running ramped. You call one of those cheap locksmith ad's for a home lockout and are quoted something like $25.00 to come out and let you in. Again, you think "this isn't going to cost me very much" so you agree and hire their service. A person arrives usually in an unmarked vehicle wearing street clothes, walks up to your door and looks at your lock that you know is just a basic lock then tells you "your lock can't be picked and needs to be drilled open and it's going to cost you $125.00 per lock plus the $25 for showing up". Don't let this happen to you. Most experienced locksmiths have the skills and tools to unlock almost any door, they will try many options first before drilling becomes necessary. Drilling should only be used as very last resort! Get a written quote first! Most residential and commercial lockouts should cost around $75.00. If an on-site locksmith is quoting a much higher price, make sure to question it first and possibly call another company to compare prices. And again, don't be afraid to fire a tech/locksmith if you feel uncomfortable with them or think your being scammed.

 Most honest locksmiths will ask these questions before quoting a price, because most of these will result in a higher estimate.
 1) Do you have a high security lock with a special key?
 2) Do you have multiple locks to open. Example; A security screen door and main entrance with 2 locks each?
 3) Do you have the newer Kwikset smart key lock or anther pick resistant lock?
 4) Is the lockout caused by a malfunctioning lock or broken key?

The out-of-state locksmith scam:
Are you calling around looking for the cheapest locksmith and getting quotes that seem expensive from local locksmith companies. Then you see those ads that say something like "$15 locksmith", "We'll beat anybody's price" or "lowest price guarantee", so you want to call them thinking your about to get a better deal. Keep reading!

 It's a question you really don't think about. You think of a locksmith with the same consideration as of a plumber, or an electrician. A service guy who fixes a problem then leaves, and you don't need to worry about it until it needs to be fixed or serviced again. A locksmith doesn't fall under that category.

 A locksmith is a professional to be compared with a family doctor, or a trusted mechanic who won't over charge you, and tells you what's really wrong with your car. The reason being, locksmiths are in close personal ties with your locks, the things that keep thieves out of your home, keep you sleeping soundly knowing that you won't be intruded on.  Locks are an essential part of keeping your mind at ease, and those expensive things you cherish in your possession. When you call a locksmith to change your locks, or make a key, that person has direct access to your locks pin combination and your keys. If you don't do your homework correctly, you might just end up hiring a Fly-By Night, scammer, unlicensed criminals, or you could end up being part of the Nation Wide ( yes, Nation Wide ) Locksmith Scam.

 Wow, when you hear the word nation wide, you don't think that in calling a local locksmith in Fremont, that it could be part of this scam? Lets step back a moment, and observe what this locksmith scam is.

 The following is an article about a person asking for help from an editor from a local news paper.
 

 Most of these scam companies are located out of state, but advertise in your local area and look like real local companies. The scam works because they'll tell you what you want to hear. "CHEAP PRICES" only to nail it to you in the end and there is nothing you can do about it.

 The thing is though, regardless of media coverage, this horrible scam still goes on rampant. In the San Francisco Bay area a lot of the ads in the phone book and online are these companies. They have a perfected system of duck and dodge, bait and switch, that keeps them in business because you, the customer, aren't up to date on what's happening.

These companies now use local phone numbers instead of 800 numbers, they also use fake local addresses so they appear to be a real local company. One way to check if a company is legit or not, is California law requires that all locksmith ads must show a valid locksmith license number on all ads and not just say that their licensed. Most, if not all, of the out of state dispatch companies won't have a California locksmith license, their ads will say they do, but they just won't show it. Most locksmith companies are small businesses with usually only a few employees if any at all, some are only owner/operators. That means they can only service a small area like the South Bay or maybe most of the Bay area but not the whole state. So when you see a company who advertises over a very large area, multiple counties, and possibly more than one state. It's best to question how can they accomplish this.

Most of these scam companies have very nice websites and look very professional, but if you look carefully you tell what information is missing. Like the address for where the main office is located and the fact that they don't employ licensed
locksmiths. And when you call them you can only talk to an operator not a locksmith.

 

Click here to verify any california locksmith company license.

Other scams, practices and Craigslist scams;

 What else do you need to keep yourself safe from. Well, if you don't know who's arriving to your house to change your locks, and to make a series of keys for your new home, something you should keep in mind is that even licensed locksmiths can try to scam you. On sites like Craigslist.com there are a lot of ads for locksmith services, and some of these ads are "blind ads". People advertise their services, show some cheap prices, say that their licensed, but don't show who they are. Legitimate locksmith companies will advertise their company name and valid locksmith license, it's the law! scammers like to hide theirs. You need to know who your locksmith is and this is something of your concern. If there is no company name and license number than this locksmith could be a phony and/or a criminal. They could provide a cheap service for you and in the process make copies of your keys for themselves, then after being welcomed into your home, come back later and rob you! If an ad has no company name and no valid locksmith license number and if a locksmith will not freely give out their license number, find someone else!

Scam companies are often found quoting very cheap prices and/or asking for cash only. This should definitely raise a red flag! Most likely, these are people who are posing as locksmith companies, people who are just sitting around waiting to take advantage of your situation. Just think, a legal, licensed, city licensed, bonded, insured, properly trained with the proper tools, locksmith company has to cover a lot of expenses, so if someone is quoting very low/cheap prices, what are they hiding? Or, what are you about to loose?  And if they will only accept cash, this is so you can't put a stop payment on a check or charge back your credit card after they scam you.

If you hired a locksmith that quoted low prices and is now demanding some phenomenal, outrageous payment, trying to bully you into paying cash and threating to call the police if you don't. Your best bet is to call the police yourself, they're on your side and would love to bust one of these scammers.

 Another thing to watch out for are contractors that advertise "locksmith services". Be aware that a contractors license Does Not substitute for a locksmith license. A lot of general contractors hire employees who have no license or any kind of back round
checks. The person who shows up could be just a day laborer or someone who was just released from prison. Don't hire contractors to handle your security needs, leave that to the licensed locksmiths.

 Never ever hire an unlicensed person or company, that would just be asking for trouble. The only locksmiths that can't qualify for a locksmith license are criminals. So Alway ask for and verify a locksmith's company license. The name, city and county on the license should match the ads name, city and county. If an ad doesn't list a company name, address, phone number, and valid locksmith license number, don't hire them! Your security and well being are worth more than just saving a few bucks. 

When calling for a locksmith, it's okay to ask for the persons name who'll be arriving at your location and it's okay to ask for I.D and to show you a valid locksmith license when they arrive. If someone shows up in an unmarked vehicle and refuses to show you a valid locksmith license. Tell them to leave or you'll call the police. If they try to bully you into paying a service fee, call the police!

 So remember, California locksmith license law requires that all locksmith ads must have a valid license number, company name, phone number and address listed on them. It's also required that all locksmiths must possess a wallet I.D and valid locksmith license on their person. If any of the above information is missing from any ad offering "locksmith services", especially on sites like Craigslist.com, than this just might be a scam company. All legitimate locksmith companies will always list their information.

Lets sum it up;
if you're calling around for prices and someone quotes you something like "$15 locksmith service" or "lowest price guarantee" chances are your talking to a scam company. If the ads that you're looking at don't list a valid locksmith license number, it could be a scam company. If you check on a company's license and the information doesn't match or looks funny, could be a scam company. If a locksmith shows up and refuses to show you their I.D and valid locksmith license, tell them to leave and call the police. Alway ask for the name of the locksmith who will be arriving, verify their license number and ask what type of payment they'll accept. If they only except cash, it may be a scam company. If the price seems to good to be true, this should raise a red flag. And last, don't hire a contractor/handyman to handle your security needs, leave that to the licensed locksmiths.

 

 The Key Shop has made a reputation of being fair and honest. All of our ads have our valid locksmith license, company name and address on them. We will show you our I.D and valid locksmith license upon arrival to your location. We accept major credit cards, cash and checks. We don't practice a bait and switch routine or advertise one price and then charge you more later on. Our prices are adjusted once a year based on some of the local economy conditions like the price of gas, cost of insurance, cost of materials, and general overhead operating expenses. So call us anytime for a free quote. We will even put it in writing.

 At The Key Shop, we pride ourselves on the quality of our work, we aren't the cheapest but we're also not the most expensive.
Quality work with a warranty, 100% customer satisfaction and we'll put it in writing!

Click to verify any locksmith "LCO" company license. or check a "LOC" employees licenses

 

Here is an older report, the names seem to change but the story stays the same.

BBB Warns Consumers of Nationwide Locksmith Swindle

Arlington, VA - July 10, 2007 - The Better Business Bureau (BBB) today is warning consumers to beware of untrustworthy locksmith companies that are ripping off consumers across the country.

Victim complaints to the BBB reveal that several locksmith companies, all using similar methods, are significantly overcharging consumers, charging consumers for  unnecessary services, using intimidation tactics, and failing to give refunds or respond to consumer complaints.

"Ironically, these companies operate under names like 'Dependable Locksmith' but in reality they exploit the vulnerable situation of consumers who are locked out of their house or car," said Steve Cox spokesperson for  the BBB System. "We've found that some locksmiths have made taking advantage of consumers' misfortune part of their business model."

Complaints about locksmith services to the 114 BBBs serving the U.S. increased almost 75 percent from 2005 to 2006, and have continued to come in steadily during the first half of this year.

The BBB has identified Dependable Locksmith - which operates under more than a dozen different names - as a particularly disreputable locksmith. This company poses as a local locksmith in cities across the country and advertises in the yellow pages using local phone numbers and fake local addresses. A consumer might think they're dealing with a local locksmith but their phone call is actually connected to a call center located in the Bronx borough of New York City.

Consumers are quoted a reasonable price over the phone but when the locksmith arrives - typically in an unmarked vehicle - he  demands significantly more money than originally quoted, often only accepting cash.

A complaint from Cleveland, OH, where Dependable Locksmith was operating under the name "Superb Solutions," alleges the company quoted fees of $39 and $84 for separate jobs, but the bill ended up at $471, which included add-on fees such as a $65 breaking in fee and a $58 fee to un-install old locks.

Another complainant reported that the locksmith sent to let her into her car demanded she pay twice the price quoted over the  phone. The locksmith offered to drive her to an ATM to get cash - feeling unsafe the victim refused. The victim was ultimately forced to write a check made out personally to the locksmith as he would not let her into her car until she did so. She canceled payment on the check the next morning, but eventually filed a police report after the locksmith harassed her with continuous phone calls about payment.

The BBB has also heard many complaints from victims who say they were charged for unnecessary services. For example, complainants suspect locksmiths sent over by Dependable Locksmiths of pretending they couldn't simply pick the lock so that they could charge more and install all new locks in homes.

Some of Dependable Locksmith's aliases include, Superb Solutions, Locksmith 24 Hour, Inc., USA Total Security, Priceline Locksmith, and S.O.S. Locksmith.

Two other locksmith contractors fleecing consumers are Basad, Inc. - which operates under more than 50 names nationwide, such as A-1 Locksmith Service, A-1 24 Hour Locksmith, A-1 Lock & Key Locksmith, and AAA Locksmith 24 Hour - and Liberty Locksmith. Similar to Dependable Locksmith, they pose as local locksmiths and run full-page yellow pages ads with multiple phone and address listings. The phone numbers appear to be local, but connect to national call centers such as Liberty's in New York City, while the addresses end up belonging to other established businesses in the local area, or are simply non-existent.

Liberty Locksmith had been a BBB member in Tulsa, OK, but during normal BBB member validation processes, it was discovered that the addresses provided by the company were false. In June 2007, the BBB terminated the membership of Liberty Locksmith for providing false information in its membership application and providing misleading advertisements to the public.

Like others, Liberty Locksmith and Basad, Inc. use common cons such as quoting one price over the phone, but then charging  significantly more on site.

"These companies are very good at posing as trustworthy locksmiths," said Mr. Cox. "Before you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being locked out of your car or house, do your research and find a truly dependable locksmith in your area. Ask around and always check with the BBB first to find reputable businesses."

If you feel you've been taken advantage of by Dependable Locksmith, Liberty Locksmith, Basad. Inc., or others, please contact the BBB to file a complaint, or do so online at www.bbb.org.

 

 

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