Locksmith scams and what to look out for
As technology is getting better with giving us that sense of safety when it comes to our belongings so is the business of scams getting tall and elaborating. According to report published by NBC, “estimated US consumers lose around $6.5 billion to scams every year – that’s the equivalent of $60 for each adult living in the US”.
The people who are behind this scam industry are coming up with new and modified ways to target the community. Imagine a person whose job is to fix locks on doors and windows and to open locked doors if you lost your keys is actually a fraud. A locksmith asking for a huge amount of money to open your locked door is becoming quite common now a days.
Cleveland Police investigated a case where the locksmith changed the lock at a very high price then came back the next day and robbed the same place. Steve Cox of the Cleveland BBB says “Of course these companies operate under names like ‘Dependable Locksmith’ in order to exploit the vulnerable emergency situation for consumers who are locked out of their house or car.”
Laura Gold of West Newton found herself in hands of a fraudulent locksmith when she called a nationwide company for a locksmith. The amount was agreed on phone, two guys appeared in an unidentified vehicle. When the job was done, she was presented with a bill for many times the quoted price and demanded cash payment. Gold says she was shocked when the technicians handed her a bill of $580. They demanded cash and she had no choice but to go the nearest ATM and withdraw the cash. Gold had been routed to the call center of Clearwater, Fla.-based Dependable, which is now the subject of a federal case as well as multiple complaints filed by state attorneys general.
In November 2009, two owners of Dependable were charged with allegedly using coercive and intimidating tactics to strong-arm customers into paying costly fees for locksmith services from its network of technicians around the country.
Hundreds and thousands of locksmith swindle people out of their deposits in America. One such incident occurred with firefighter David Rossi. He hired a locksmith to replace three lockswhen his Woodbridge, Va., home was burglarized. Locksmith agreed upon a price of $250 but David was presented with a bill of more than $1,000. “After looking into it, that’s not a normal price for changing locks, even in the middle of the night in an emergency,” Rossi says. “It felt like I’d been robbed twice.”
Ways to avoid locksmith scams
Reliable Locksmith Resources:
Don’t wait your keys to be misplaced or get lost. Always keep a number of a reliable locksmith company in your mobile, wallet or purse.
- Search online for a local company preferably on Google. Call them and inquire if their company is registered, the registered name of the company, from where the technicians belong and if they are licensed or not. If you get good vibes then continue with your conversation and inquire into the rates being charged to open or fix the locks. An unbelievably low quote (like $20) probably means a scam or hidden costs.
- Tell the locksmith dispatcher you will want to see the locksmith’s ID card and certificate. This will ensure that the locksmith has necessary skills required for the job. In America the following states require locksmiths to be licensed: Alabama, California, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Unlicensed and devious locksmiths will charge you more than 10 times the normal rate.
- When they arrive check up on the car number, if it is missing and if you find their behavior unprofessional in anyway be very cautious.
- Before he proceeds with the job insist him to give a written price of the job to be done. If he insists on cash, watch out this may mean a scam.
- Don’t pay until you are satisfy with the job.
- The locksmith should ask you for your identification. Don’t be offended, he only wants to ensure if you are the owner of the property. He is trying to protect the community from theft.
- When searching a reputable locksmith company, probe them if they charge extra for emergency hours, mileage or they could also have a service call minimum where you may pay them over $50 for two minutes work.
- Be sure to get an invoice enumerated with the details of the job done. It should include parts, labor, additional fees, mileage and tax. Apart from this if anything else is also charged it should also be mentioned.
- A good locksmith should be able to unlock the door without causing any damage. If he wants to drill into your door, don’t allow him as most of the locks can be opened without damaging your door. It’s a last resort approach to gaining entry to locks that cannot be opened by other means.
The important thing is, when in an emergency situation, don’t be tempted into taking impulsive action and ignoring the checks outlined here. Stay calm, search and follow the guidelines and use your common sense to hire a locksmith. Panicking or being impatient can leave you with empty pockets.