It’s been a very long night.
After what seems like the evening from hell, you step onto your front porch, reach into your right pocket, and begin to picture all of the things you are going to do to soothe your irritated mind once you are finally inside of your home.
Only, your right pants pocket lacks that familiar jingle of keys and vacation keychain souvenirs.
You’re trying not to panic.
But soon you realize its definitely time to panic.
Not only are your keys magically missing from your front pants pocket, they are shining at you from your driveway. Yes, the streetlight is hitting ever so perfectly on those gleaming keys of yours…that are behind your car’s windshield…still in the ignition of your car!
Your evening from hell just got a bit hotter.
You may be stuck on your front porch and locked out of your car, but come on…it’s 2020, you made sure to grab your smartphone before rushing out of your car.
Before you pull up 24-hour locksmiths on your phone, take a moment to read over the 4 ways to avoid locksmith scams this year.
You wouldn’t want to make a bad night worse, right?
But First, Are Locksmith Scams Even a Thing?
Oh come on, you should know by now that almost anything can be “a thing”.
And yes, locksmith scams are absolutely a thing.
In fact, locksmith scams are on the rise.
It’s a sad reality that some businesses just aren’t honest. Some businesses aren’t even businesses at all (in the traditional sense). A lot of times when you are looking for services online, you are seeing ads for contractors.
There isn’t anything wrong with contractors though. Especially if you get one that knows exactly what they are doing and loves their trade.
However, so many people are hiding under the title of “contractor” to perform services that they are not actually qualified to perform. They may have watched a few videos online, or seen someone else perform a task and learned how to do it themselves.
But, that doesn’t make them fit for the job.
You would be surprised how just about anyone can create an online ad for themselves to offer pretty much any service.
Do you really want someone who may have just watched a YouTube video on “How to pick a lock” overcharging you for a service they shouldn’t be doing?
Of course not!
Watching a YouTube video on “How to pick a lock” isn’t even recommended for you (the owner) to do. If you are not a trained professional, you could seriously cause more damage to your home’s or car’s lock.
And, further damage could put your security at risk in the future.
So look for a professional, but take the time to find the correct one.
First things first…
1. Check The Ratings
This may sound like an obvious idea but during a crisis, many people become so desperate that they are willing to take the first “helping hand” that promises to be there within the next hour.
Nowadays everything pretty much has an online reputation, and businesses aren’t any different. If you happen to be locked out, on your front porch, with your smartphone, and you have enough power to do so-check the ratings for businesses that popup after searching “locksmiths”.
Now, some companies may be local businesses that have been around for years, but they may not have built up their online reputation just yet.
It’s alright for a business to not have very many ratings if they are new, or are just now starting to list themselves online.
In those cases, you can take a chance and if you have a good experience leave a great review yourself.
What’s not alright, is if a business has tons of 1 and 2-star ratings.
It’s been said that angry customers are more likely to leave a review than happy ones. But, if hundreds of people have the same complaint about a locksmith company, it is best to try and find help elsewhere.
During an emergency, the last thing you need to be wondering is whether or not your experience with a locksmith is going to be as bad as the reviews you have read.
Like it or not, reviews play a serious role in business culture around the world. And, you can trust that any locksmith that truly cares about their customers, will address any public ridicule that has come in the form of hundreds of negative online reviews.
2. Be Careful How You Pay
Never pay for a service prior to actually having the service done. This is a very important rule to remember when dealing with a locksmith.
When you contact a locksmith, never pay for the service upfront over the phone using your credit or debit card information. Some fraudulent locksmiths will ask for you to make a payment upfront before they can “come to your rescue”.
If you ask why payment is necessary prior to actually meeting the locksmith and having the service performed, they may tell you that it’s for the safety of their locksmith.
Don’t fall for it!
Your safety comes first. Giving out your credit or debit card information over the phone to a questionable business could put your finances and identity at risk.
Most card companies have a stop payment feature that allows you to stop payments for activity that you did not consent to. However, its harder to stop payment on a card that you have been recorded giving the number out to.
Most businesses (even fraudulent ones), have a recorded line for “training purposes”. If you are recorded giving out your payment information to a fraudulent locksmith, it could be much harder to get your card company to back you up if you cry fraud.
What can be worse than a fraudulent locksmith having your credit or debit card information?
Having your identity.
Sure having someone make unauthorized purchases on your account, or charge you for a service you never received is horrible. But, things are a lot worse when someone has stolen your identity.
It may be harder for criminals to steal your identity in 2020, but it isn’t impossible. Some well-practiced criminals only need your first and last name, and maybe your address to get started on the process.
Once your identity is stolen, it could take years to get it back.
And, it could take even longer than that for you to feel safe enough to pay a business using your card details remotely again.
Having your identity stolen could prevent you from enjoying all of the benefits and conveniences a debit or credit card provides.
Avoid Paying In Cash
You may be wondering how you can actually pay if you are being told not to use your credit or debit card, or pay in cash.
Well, remember-paying with your card is an acceptable form of payment, and even a recommended one when you can trust the business.
If you do decide to pay with your credit or debit card, there is at least a paper trail that is saved each time your card is used. This paper trail could help you if you ever need to take legal action.
But, if you pay in cash it is highly unlikely that you will be able to prove that any harm was actually done to you.
In fact, if the locksmith denies ever being in contact with you, it could be almost impossible to prove otherwise without a witness or video footage.
So don’t pay in cash if you can avoid it, and if you must pay in cash be sure that you get a legitimate receipt with the business name attached.
3. Ask Questions First
Once you finally decide on a locksmith and they are at your home, you will want to ask a few questions before you let them perform the service of unlocking your door.
These questions can include but are not limited to the following:
- How much will this service be?
- How long should this take?
- Are you going to need to drill my lock?
- Do you have a business card?
These questions are important for multiple reasons. Having a business card makes the business seem more legit. It also gives you something tangible that you can hold onto just in case you do need to take legal action.
Knowing how long the service should take will give you an idea of how comfortable the locksmith is at performing the service. Typically locksmiths that have had plenty of experience shouldn’t need an hour or more to get you back into your home.
All locks are different of course, and some may require more time than others.
The point of this step is to make sure you have asked all of the right questions prior to the locksmith touching your lock. You want to be sure that you are comfortable with the price that they are asking, and the steps they will need to take to get you back into your home.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If a locksmith seems as though they are becoming impatient with your questions, or appears to be in a rush, it may be best to find someone else for the job.
4. Preventative Research
Research trusted locksmith companies before you are actually put in a position to need them. This is the most important step you could ever take to avoid locksmith scams.
Most people are guilty of not doing their research prior to needing help. This can be said with so many things. A person may stop payment on their renter’s or homeowner’s insurance because they feel that there isn’t a need for such a monthly payment.
New drivers may also neglect getting car insurance due to the price. Don’t be like so many others that neglect being prepared in case of an emergency. Do your research before you actually need the service.
Doing the research beforehand will ensure that you are prepared if you ever need to call a locksmith.
Try to have at least three locksmiths that you have researched and feel as though you can trust. You will also want to make sure that at least one of your researched locksmiths can provide 24-hour assistance.
Don’t Stop Here
Don’t stop at these 4 steps to prevent locksmith scams. Along with preventative research, be sure to ask neighbors, friends, and family for locksmith recommendations.
Ask about positive or negative experiences they may have had with a locksmith company, and take note of any additional advice that they are willing to offer.
Above all, just remain cautious. It’s always best to ask any questions you may have over the phone. It can be a bit intimidating to back down from a locksmith that is a con-artist when they are right in front of you.
Locksmith scammers are very manipulative and know the right things to say in order to pressure you into paying for their services. If possible, call in reassurance (in the form of a trusted friend) that can be with you while you are speaking with the locksmith and the service is being performed.
Remember to always weigh your options and never go with a locksmith that makes you feel uncomfortable.
We are always here to help!
Be sure to check out the services we provide and keep us in mind the next time you have an emergency.