by: Jim Newell
A locksmith service scam has been running wild in major cities in the USA for a couple of years, and is now spreading to other areas. Authorities in many states are aware of the problem, however they have not had a lot of luck stamping this out.
There seem to be a few dispatch firms that are placing toll free phone numbers with multiple ads in area phone books and in on line phone books. Many of these ads have addresses that are for residences and even other businesses, but these are all not connected with the name of the locksmith in the ad. When you call the phone number the phone is being answered in a dispatch center in another city, they will quote a price covering your service need and dispatch a supposed locksmith they have contracted with.
Typically the “locksmiths” they send are poorly trained, if at all. They are usually not successful at getting you in or fixing your lock and will remove yours almost always destroying it in the process. They will then replace it with a very inferior lock and present you with a bill much higher than what you were quoted. For example you are quoted $25.00 to get you in, and present you with a bill for $600.00 or even higher.
Legitimate locksmiths have tried to get these scam artists out of business, however there do not seem to be laws on the books in most states that allow for arrest and prosecution of these individuals.
The phone book publishers are so disinterested when they receive a complaint that you might think they are complicit in the scams.
There have been a number of television sting type news stories across the country and people are slowly becoming aware, however there are new victims daily.
It is becoming much more important for the consumer to be sure they are dealing with a legitimate locksmith service before committing to service. Here are some suggested ways to verify that a locksmith business is legitimate, qualified and honest.
Check out and select a locksmith company that will provide emergency service, before you need one, load their number into your cell phone.
Check with your local Better Business Bureau for any complaints against your choice.
Check for membership in national of local locksmith associations, while not a guarantee that a business is legit, these associations do police their members. Some associations require locksmiths to work toward certification in various aspects of the craft, have an ongoing education requirement, and enforce a code of ethics.
Ask your friends, neighbors or other businesses for a recommendation.
When the locksmith arrives ask for identification and a written quote, if they can’t of will not produce them, don’t let them start working.
Check these websites www.aloa.org or www.legallocksmiths.com for a list of locksmiths, who have been checked out as being legitimate, this site is fairly new and the list will be growing, if your locksmith is not listed it does not mean they are not legitimaite, just that they may not yet be listed. This site also has links to many of the news stories that have been run across the counrty, as well as links to suggested authorities by state.
Locksmithing is a very old and honorable profession, the vast majority of locksmiths are qualified, and honest business people, and do a very good job of serving their customers. It is a shame that there are those who will take advantage of people who are in a stressful situation, if you come across one of them, call you local police.