It may be hard to believe, but not all locksmiths are as trustworthy as the Sure-Fit Security team. While most locksmiths are honest, hardworking people who just want to provide a service to their community, some run their business by taking advantage of people while they’re at their most vulnerable. In this blog, we aim to highlight some of the most common locksmith scams and offer some helpful advice on how to avoid falling victim to these tactics.
Locksmith scams have been on the rise recently, but there are two types of cons that have become particularly prevalent. The first is the emergency lockout scam. Homeowners and drivers all dread the day when they find themselves locked out of their house or car, and it’s during this vulnerable time that they can be lured into scams by dishonest locksmiths. The locksmith will set the trap by listing their service for an unusually low price, such as $25. Upon arrival, they might comment that the situation calls for a different approach and increase their rate. By the end of the job, you’ll suddenly find yourself with a $500 bill.
How did this happen? First, it’s important to be wary of any service that comes at a low rate, but this $10 or $25 fee they initially present will likely end up being their “consultation charge” meaning that they will increase the bill by adding labor and services to the final total. If you do decide to check on such low-priced offers, make sure to speak with the smith before they even come to your home and ask if they can give you a quote on the cost. If they refuse to give you any sort of estimate, hang up!
Another way this scam works is that the smith will offer to do more work than necessary, saying they have to break in or smash a window, but will avoid doing so by drilling your lock instead for a small fee. Don’t let this happen! Again during the initial contact, it’s important to ask for a description of what service they plan to perform and make it clear that you do not want them drilling your lock.
The other common locksmith scam is for re-keying services. Most of us have had a new lock installed or a lock re-keyed after moving into a new home and unlike during a lockout, this is a service that requires less urgency, allowing you to take your time to research the locksmith. Typically a re-keying will cost between $12 and $30 per keyhole/cylinder (meaning if you have two locks to change, you might be charged as much as $60), while some companies have a flat service charge that could impact the price. When rekeying a lock, a dishonest locksmith will charge you for replacing the existing pins in addition to the other fees. Replacing pins is just part of the re-keying process and this charge only increases your bill. Another variation on the re-keying scam will be the locksmith outright claiming that your lock is broken and needs to be fixed before he can re-key it.
Again this is why it’s so important to take time and research your potential locksmith. Make sure they are a local service, call their office or phone number and ask where they are and how they will get to your location. This may seem simple or obvious, but some fake services have their calls forwarded to call centers in other states. If you call and receive a generic greeting of “locksmith services” instead of the actual company’s name then you might be dealing with a dishonest service. When you do speak with the actual smith, make sure to ask for the cost and if any factors could affect it. In addition to this, ask what payment methods they use. A locksmith that insists on cash may not be completely reputable.
We hope that this information has helped to better prepare you to become more aware of potential scams. Remember, when you do need a locksmith make sure to:
- Ask for their location
- Ask for an estimate on the services and inquire about additional charges
- Ask for the name of the locksmith who will be coming
- Ask what payment methods they accept
- Never let a locksmith drill your door!
Fortunately, if you are a homeowner or business in the Northern Virginia or Washington metropolitan area, you can be confident that a reputable locksmith is just a phone call away. When you need help with your locks, be sure to connect with Sure-Fit Security by calling 301-585-4595 or visiting our website to learn more about our services: http://www.surefitsecurity.com/