If you find yourself locked out of your home or car, your first instinct is usually to call a locksmith. However, it is important to be cautious as a common locksmithing scam can have you paying exorbitant rates.
A traditional scam for shady locksmiths has been to have a number of fake listings (addresses and phone numbers) in a town or city. When a consumer calls one of these numbers, the call is diverted to an out-of-state call center, where the caller is given a reasonable estimate for work. When the disreputable locksmith arrives and the work is completed the actual cost can end up being much higher.
This scam has traditionally targeted desperate consumers who are locked out of their home or vehicle and without the means to appropriately vet their choice. The rise of smartphones and the internet has armed the consumer against this threat and it is always wise to do a little research before you call any contractor. However, the web has also given the scammers a new way to deploy their illegitimate locksmiths.
A Web-Based Twist
This scam has been taken to the next level with these disreputable locksmiths using technology to hijack calls, emails, or even the websites of reputable locksmith companies. Calls that the consumer thinks are going to a legitimate locksmith are in fact being forwarded to one of the out-of-state call centers and a scam locksmith is dispatched. This can occur for calls that are for regular service or emergency lock out calls. This is essentially a form of identity theft with the scam locksmith using, and profiting from, a legitimate company’s hard work and reputation.
When a locksmith poses as another business, it can be difficult to find them so the consumer can seek redress in the case of damage or overbilling. It is important to be vigilant when hiring a locksmith to avoid this scam. There are a few simple ways you can ensure that you are dealing with the legitimate locksmith.
The Key to Finding a Reputable Locksmith
With a little foresight, you can protect yourself against both variations of this scam. In the event of a lockout, having a reputable locksmith already chosen can ensure that you aren’t shunted to one of the out-of-state companies. There are a few steps you can take that are also good general business sense.
Identify your locksmith – All Holicong Security personnel identify themselves. Our technicians wear uniforms, arrive in marked trucks unless otherwise specified by the office at the time of dispatch or may present you with a photo ID card. Many times the dispatcher will tell you the name of our person who is responding to your call.
Be smart with business – As when hiring any contractor, always get an estimate for all work and replacement parts from the locksmith before work begins. Holicong Security always gives an estimate up front for your costs. Be sure that your locksmith is insured, like Holicong Security. If a locksmith is uninsured, any damages they make during the repair might be a loss for you. When work is completed, get an itemized invoice that covers parts, labor, and the price of the service call.
For more information about avoiding these types of scams, visit the FTC’s finding a locksmith guide.
Remember, if something seems off with a situation, it probably is. Trust your instincts. If you think you have been the victim of a locksmithing scam, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or with the Pennsylvania Attorney General.