A locksmith scam happens when someone accidentally calls an ad, or website, that claims to be a locksmith service. Instead of getting a locksmith to show up, they actually get a con artist that performs poor work and overcharges by hundreds of dollars. In many cases, the victim of a locksmith scam has to call a real locksmith back to repair the damage left by a scammer. This happens every day to thousands of people all across America.
HOW TO SPOT A LOCKSMITH SCAM
Here are some of the signs to look out for to spot a locksmith scam:
- When you call, you won’t talk to a locksmith; you’ll get a dispatcher who answers the phone with a generic phrase like “service” or “locksmith” but not the name of the business you called.
- They promise to do work for unreasonably low prices.
- The vehicle used by the fake locksmith may be an unmarked car or van that doesn’t have permanent business markings on it.
- A fake locksmith will usually not wear a uniform or show ID.
- When they show up, suddenly your project is “more complicated” and the price escalates dramatically.
- They often insist on payment in cash. A scammer wants to avoid credit cards because of the possibility of it being traced.
HOW DOES A LOCKSMITH SCAM WORK?
There are three parts to a scam process advertise, dispatch, and con. In advertising, their model is quite simple. Outnumber legitimate locksmith businesses 100 to 1 through any form of advertising. In the phone books they list hundreds, and even thousands of fake business names in any variation and on any street. This method greatly increases the chances that you, the consumer, will accidentally call a scam locksmith. Scammers create thousands of fake locksmith websites to overwhelm and outnumber any legitimate locksmith businesses that may actually be there. On their fake websites, you will notice the heavy use of generic stock photos in a desperate attempt to appear normal. They create an ad for a ridiculously low price locksmiths services in a bid to lure innocent customers to patronize them. Also, when it comes to locations, here is their business strategy. Number one, they locate a legitimate locksmith shop. Two, they surround that location with 10 fake locksmith listings. Next, they list at least three fake listings in every township, county, and borough surrounding that locksmith shop
All these ads, all these fake websites, these fake business listings, and fake locations are all in an attempt to get you, the consumer, to call their number. When a customer calls, the call is enrouted to a dispatch services. When they answer the phone, they answer with “Service” or “Locksmith.” When you ask them, “What company did I call?” They will never answer that question. There was a, “What company did you call?” Again, using questions should deflect a question. Many times, they have the inability to answer locksmith related questions. This should be a sign to a customer that he/she is dealing with a fake locksmith service. The dispatchers will avoid details in any type of questions. Their number one goal is to get off the phone as soon as possible, and to dispatch a scammer to the location.
Next is when the con artist comes out to your house or car. That is when the shake down really begins. Let’s start off with the arrival of the con artist, the scammer. Usually, they show up in unmarked car or van, sometimes with out of state plates, and sometimes with magnetic removable signs. Next up is their appearance. Many of them look rough. They are rough looking characters with no uniform, no badges and no IDs. You will get a poorly trained technician showing up at your house or your car. The technician arrives and proceeds to usually insist on destroying the lock. Scammers exploit your emergency situation to charge you more and they don’t care about their customers and get irritated by questions asked by their customers. A legitimate locksmith cares about his customer and takes times to answer questions of the customer and can answer questions intelligently. Also, the fake locksmith charges you outrageous sums to place a cheap, imported piece of hardware that is worse than the one you had on your door. When it comes to payment, they will demand cash even though every one of their websites claims to accept all major credit cards. There charges are always more than what was advertised, they justified this by saying the cheap amount you saw on their website is just to get them to come excluding the payment for service, then they proceed to charging a huge sum of money for their services. You are left exploited with no way of getting your money back or sue for recourse.
HOW TO FIND A REAL LOCKSMITH
The best way to avoid a scam is to find a real locksmith before you actually need one. Don’t wait until you are locked out at night in the cold to contact a locksmith. Know ahead of time who you would call, should you ever have a need for this kind of service. And keep that number in your phone, wallet, purse, and car. If you ever do find yourself in a lock-out situation and don’t have a locksmith already picked out, there are still steps you can take to avoid being scammed. The most important thing to remember is not to panic. Keeping your head clear when faced with an unnerving situation can be challenging, but it will likely be the difference between landing a legitimate locksmith and ending up with your pocket picked instead of your lock. If you keep the warning signs above in mind, you can usually tell just by talking on the phone who is a real professional and who is a dispatch for hundreds of fake companies. By taking just a few extra minutes to stop and evaluate your situation, you can save yourself from making a rash decision and prevent yourself from becoming the next locksmith scam victim.