Here in Jacksonville, Florida, we have had problems with locksmith scammers, and according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), we’re not alone. Across the country a handful of scammers are stirring up trouble for people who are dealing with residential and commercial lockouts. While most locksmiths are honest, all it takes is one wrong phone call to cause all kinds of headaches from being overcharged for poor work to having your home or business broken into.
Here at The Safe Depot, we want you to be safe in your dealings with locksmiths. We want to arm you with practical knowledge that will help you to avoid scammers. Here are six of our best tips for vetting locksmiths and making sure you don’t fall victim to a scam.
1. Research the Company
Before you call anyone, do your research. If you are locked out of your home or car, don’t let the urgency of the situation prevent you from doing your due diligence. Many scammers rely on their victims not asking a lot of questions or doing a lot of digging. The Internet has made it easy to obtain information on a company before you do business with them.
Before hiring a locksmith, check their website or check the BBB’s website for reviews of the company. Make sure the company has a local address. Some scammers borrow the names of larger locksmith companies to appear legitimate, so be sure that the company you are researching is the same one you are calling.
2. Ask for a Quote
When you call a company, ask for a quote up front. If the company has a different quote listed on their website from what they give you, this could be a red flag. As well, if the quote is very low (Only $10 to come unlock your home? Sounds suspicious.) it may be a scam, or it may be that they are hiding other fees that they will charge you later.
Ask questions about additional fees that may apply, like after hours fees, so that you’ll be sure what you’re paying upfront. When the locksmith arrives, ask again for a written quote. If the quote is different from what you got on the phone, ask why. If there is no explanation or the explanation seems unreasonable, do not proceed.
3. Ask About Where You Can Reach Them.
When you call the locksmith, ask where they are located. If they operate by phone only, ask them for a home address or somewhere else that you can find them in the event that something is wrong with the work they have done. If you are suspicious about the validity of the information they provide, request a business card, invoice, or business certificate with their information on it.
4. Be Aware of Red Flags When the Locksmith Arrives
There are some red flags that you can pay attention for when your locksmith arrives. A professional locksmith should arrive in a vehicle marked with the logo and information for the company with which they work. They should behave professionally. They should not ask for money up front, or ask you to pay only in cash. If you are concerned about the locksmith, ask if you can take down their driver’s license information.
If the locksmith insists right off the bat that the lock needs to be broken or rekeyed, this is a big red flag. There may be circumstances under which this has to be done, but a professional locksmith should have the tools necessary to unlock your home or car without breaking or rekeying the lock. If your locksmith suggests that these are your only options, ask them to explain why, and ask if there are any alternatives. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, don’t have the work done, and if the locksmith displays unreasonable or threatening behavior, call the police.
5. Find a Locksmith Before you Need One
Most people don’t find a locksmith until there’s an emergency, but finding a locksmith before you need one allows you to verify their legitimacy. Ask around to friends, family or coworkers about locksmiths that they use and trust. Verify that the business actually exists at the local address listed and go in to talk to the owners of the company. Keep their phone number on hand or add them to your contacts in your smartphone so that you can call them as soon as you need them.
6. If You Have Been Scammed, Report It
If you do get scammed by a locksmith scammer, report it to the local police and to the BBB. Tell people that you know to avoid the company so that they won’t get scammed as well. Protect yourself and others from future scams by sharing information on how to avoid scams, and information about which local locksmiths are trustworthy.
Be sure to pass this information along if you found it useful, and help your friends, family, and coworkers avoid scams. If you ever happen to need a residential or commercial locksmith in the Jacksonville, Florida area, call Geoff at The Safe Depot. Geoff is a trustworthy locksmith who goes out of his way to help his clients.
Articles with this disclaimer may not represent the beliefs or core values of The Safe Depot. The above is simply a summary taken from the industry’s general community to help readers stay up-to-date on what people are talking about.