The Locksmith Scam
Unfortunately, in recent years the locksmith industry has been the target of unscrupulous practices and straight out scams. People and organizations representing themselves as reputable locksmiths when they are truly unqualified. Some are even going so far as falsely representing themselves as a well known local locksmith. Just last week we received a call from a guy, we will call him George, that had some problems with the tech that was dispatched to his car. George also stated the repairs had not been done properly and the price he was charged was a lot more than what was quoted.
While our heart went out to George, there was nothing we could do. Despite what he was initially led to believe, it wasn’t one of our techs that he called. These rip off artists are everywhere and have no problem praying on people, especially those in need.
In the case of our friend George, he needed a key made for his car. He went to google to look up the number for EKeys4 Cars, an ad popped up that said EKeys4Cars. He clicked on the first ad, he called the number and asked for someone to be sent out to make some keys. George assumed that he was dealing with EKeys4Cars, the trusted local automotive locksmith. What he got was someone who was unqualified, uninsured and illegitimate. This person charged him several hundred dollars and was left with nothing but a damaged ignition.
Often times consumers call a locksmith in a time of need and in distress, this makes them an easier target.
“The prevalence of fraudulent locksmiths is a scam that is only growing,”
says Jim Hancock of the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA).
While it is not a new scam the digital age has made it easier for perpetrators to reach trusting motorist. National and local locksmiths and locksmith associations are doing what they can to prevent these deceitful practices but often times as soon as one operation is shut down the scammers move on under a new name and continue praying on unaware consumers.
To help educate our customers, we have put together some information on what to look for and how to spot a scam. If you ever have any questions or you are unsure of who you are dealing with, you can always call us directly at our Andover or Saco offices.
Top Locksmith Scams
False representation is when the scam artist represents them self as an established local locksmith. They will use the name of a reputable and local locksmith in their internet ads and when they answer the phone. You think you are getting a professional but what you get is an overseas call center that dispatches to anyone with a van and a screwdriver. They charge you hundreds of dollars and often cause hundreds more in damage. You have no recourse because you don’t even know who they are.
The Name Change
When a bad locksmith’s reputation catches up with them, they change names. This deceitful practice happens in a lot of industries, including the automotive locksmith industry.
Rather than clean up their act, they change their name and their phone number then they start
Bait and Switch
Bait and Switch is probably one of the most common locksmith scams. You call a locksmith in your time of need. They quote you a super low price. The locksmith arrives and gets to work. By the time he/she finishes the work, the price has gone up 400-500%. When you question the price, the locksmith uses intimidation and threatens to lock you out of your car or home.
How They Get You
A listing on Google with fake addresses, fake reviews, and a few false claims can make anyone look like a reputable locksmith on the surface. When in reality they will get you with
● Tacking on unnecessary services
● Charging upfront fees just to charge you a second time when the services are about to be rendered.
● Causing damage to your lock
No one wants to need a locksmith, but if an emergency arrives, being prepared is your best defense so do your research now. Ask friends and family who they use. Research companies and verify they are truly local. Make sure the company you choose is established and has verifiable references.
We would even suggest saving our phone number (888-55-EKEYS) on your phone so if you do need us you don’t get caught up with an imposter as George did.
Red Flags To Look For
● The address listed on the online listing isn’t a business address or is actually the address of a different business
● The locksmith shows up in an unmarked van
● You are informed that they will only accept cash
● They do not have proper identification
● When you call a local number you get an overseas call center
● The locksmith only has an 800 number, no local numbers
● They will not give you a quote or the quote is extremely low
Don’t forget, most locksmiths are trustworthy and honest. Most of us became locksmiths because we wanted to help. Keep an eye out for the red flags and make sure you do your research before an emergency so you know you have a trusted professional to count on!