Don’t you hate it when you look through your car’s locked doors and windows and see your keys on the seat? Frustrated, put out and feeling kind of like an idiot for locking your keys in the car, you are just glad you have your cell phone.
Quickly, you Google locksmiths and see a nice advertisement for one right nearby. You call, they give you their special rate, just $20 since you are nearby. Once they take your information, they send someone out straight away. He hands you a form to fill out with your name and address, just the usual things.
He gets to work but your car will not open. After further attempts, the locksmith shakes his head sadly and says your lock is faulty. Drilling it out is the only solution. Frantic because you are late to daycare, you agree. Boom. You just got scammed. Now, your bill is close to $1000 instead of $20. Your car door lock is ruined.
Here are a few ways to protect yourself against these scam artists.
1. If the Price Seems Too Low, there Is A Problem
- Scammers always extend a hook. Usually, the extremely low offer is the hook. The average locksmith call costs at least $60.
- If the locksmith only takes cash, there is a problem.
- Ask the locksmith for a written estimate upon arrival. If he refuses, it’s a scam.
2. Ask for Identification or Licensing Information
- Only 15 states require a locksmith to have a license. Ask for ID when the locksmith arrives.
- Tell the person you call that you will require a picture ID from the locksmith.
- If you live in a state where a locksmith requires a license, ask for it and write the number down.
3. Discover If You Are Speaking to the Locksmith or A Call Center
- Often, scam artists pay for a website and start out with a number or AAAA, so they appear first in the telephone book. They want you to call them first.
- Since they are not real locksmiths, they contract with a call center to answer their calls. Your local locksmith does not use call centers.
- If they deny being a call center, ask if they know what shopping center is near you, or for a local landmark. Usually, the hesitation will give them away.
4. Get Information About Additional Charges in Advance
- If you call after hours, ask if there is an additional fee.
- Find out if there is a service call minimum or mileage fee. If the person does not know or says to ask the locksmith, hang up.
- Check the online reviews. Legitimate places like Locksmith lock-up services inc, have a lot of reviews from real people.
5. Don’t Get Fooled by the Drilling Scam
- If the locksmith wants to drill your lock, do not allow it. Ask in advance if the locksmith might drill the lock, cancel the call if they refuse to answer.
- A phony locksmith claims your lock is a high-security lock that must be drilled open. You know if you have a special high-security lock if you actually have one.
- Fake locksmiths state they must drill your lock to replace it with a high-security lock. Do not allow him to do this. It is a scam to allow them to break into your car or home later.
The best way to protect yourself is to prepare in advance. Find out who the local locksmiths are and check to see that they have real addresses. If you get caught unprepared with an emergency, Google the physical address the locksmith used.
All too often you find it is a vacant lot, a school, another business or simply does not exist. Trust your gut reaction. If you sense something is not right, cancel the call. Even if the locksmith arrives, cancel the call and locate local assistance.