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Don't Be Scammed by a Locksmith

January 15, 2018

Don't be scammed by a locksmith

At Dill's Lock & Key, we care about our customers. Please read the following to protect yourself from scammers.

Research carefully before hiring a locksmith for your car or home

Published: May 21, 2014 by Anthony Giorgianni

http://www.consumerreports.org

What are you going to do if you lock yourself out of your car?

You've locked yourself out of your car or your home, so you call a locksmith, perhaps the one you find in a phone book or online. But don't be so quick. In what has been dubbed the locksmith scam, some unscrupulous locksmiths promise low prices by phone and then jack up the cost when they arrive.

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau earlier this year warned about the scam, which has been going on for years but is showing signs of becoming more prevalent.

In some instances, the companies advertising these locksmith services go by names similar to those of local companies and use local phone numbers and bogus addresses. But the calls actually go to call centers in another city, warns the Federal Trade Commission. The locksmith, who might be poorly trained, sometimes arrives in an unmarked vehicle and demands significantly more than the price quoted over the phone. Payment often must be made in cash. Frustrated consumers, eager to get into their homes or cars, often end up paying anyway.

What to do

Be prepared. One option is to find a legitimate local locksmith in advance and keep the company's contact information with you. For your car, an alternative is to get a roadside-assistance plan that provides lockout service. (If you have a plan, find out whether it already provides the service.) Of course, it's also a good idea to give spare sets of keys to a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor who lives nearby. We don't recommend hiding keys outside your home or car.

Check out the company's reputation. Before calling a locksmith, look for complaints by visiting the Better Business Bureau and by using a web search with the company name and such words as "complaints" and "reviews." If you're researching a locksmith for use in a future emergency, also check for complaints with the state or local consumer-protection agency.

Use your judgment. Be suspicious if the locksmith arrives in an unmarked vehicle or won't provide identification or a business card. Don't be afraid to send the locksmith away if something seems wrong. And don't be intimidated into using the service.

Pay with a credit card. When arranging service, verify that the company takes credit cards. If you pay using your card and there are shenanigans, you can dispute the charge with your card issuer. Also, get a receipt. Never use cash.

File a complaint. If you feel there was wrongdoing, complain to your state attorney general or consumer-protection agency and the Better Business Bureau.

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Google's Fake Locksmith Problem

February 14, 2018

Google’s Fake Locksmith Problem Once Again Hits The New York Times

by Barry Schwartz

Google's local results algorithm has not fixed the fake listing problem from five years ago. Almost five years since the New York Times profiled the issue with Google’s local results and locksmiths, the newspaper published a fresh story around the issue this weekend.The story is called Fake Online Locksmiths May Be Out to Pick Your Pocket, Too. It goes through how local locksmiths are locked out of the local results because of all the fake, call-center-based locksmiths that are hacked into the Google local results.When a searcher begins looking for a local locksmith, instead their phone call often goes to a call center, which then may send “poorly trained subcontractors” to charge you a lot more money than you were quoted on the phone. The subcontractor arrives on the scene and then often will require the person locked out of their car or house to pay three or four times what was quoted on the phone.

The goal of lead gens is to wrest as much money as possible from every customer, according to lawsuits. The typical approach is for a phone representative to offer an estimate in the range of $35 to $90. On site, the subcontractor demands three or four times that sum, often claiming that the work was more complicated than expected. Most consumers simply blanch and pay up, in part because they are eager to get into their homes or cars.

Where are these locksmiths from? The New York Times uncovered companies, often not based in the local area, that set up fake locations within Google Maps to trick the algorithm into thinking they are a locally based company. These companies can literally be found in all metro areas, but all phone calls typically go to a single call center that’s not located in the metro region.A Google spokesman told the New York Times that the company worked hard to check bad actors and quickly removed listings that violate its policies.The truth is, not much has changed in terms of this issue in the local results at Google in the past five years. It is almost impossible for Google to manually remove all these fake listings, and as they do remove them, several more pop up every day. The algorithm simply doesn’t work in this case.Check out the very detailed article on the problem, who is causing it, and how Google is unable to prevent it at the New York Times.

keys in door

Hiring a Locksmith?  Be Aware of These Common Scams

March 15, 2018

Written by Jamie O'Toole 

Imagine arriving home late one evening after countless hours of traveling. You are exhausted and hungry and want nothing more than to abandon your suitcase, still packed, by the front door and melt into your cozy bed for the first time in days.

You reach for your house key and… it isn’t in your pocket. You frantically search the car and rummage through your bags but to no avail. The best you can remember is that the key is somewhere miles away, back in your hotel room, and now you are stuck outside with no way in. You pull out your cell phone and are relieved when the first Google search result shows a bargain locksmith for only $10 who claims the ability to be there in a matter of minutes regardless of the time of day.

Perfect, you think, but could this offer be too good to be true?

Sadly, the answer is yes. It is impossible for any reputable locksmith to charge only $10 or $20 per picked lock and remain in business. Keep in mind that a locksmith’s fee covers the cost of transportation, licensing, tools, insurance, supplies and any other job-related expenses, so a locksmith would be losing money on a job by charging so little.

The reason most of the locksmith ads you see online offer unbelievably low prices is because they are scams. Scams make up 95 percent of all online locksmith ads, and complaints about locksmiths rank among the Better Business Bureau’s top complaints annually, though it is believed that a significant number of scams go unreported as well.

One of the most dangerous parts about locksmith scams is that they come in all different shapes and sizes. They can consist of anything from price gouging and low-quality workmanship to identity theft and the creation of extra keys to gain access to a property at a later date when the customer is not around.

Some of the most common scams include:

Bait and Switch– Locksmiths advertise unreasonably low prices to attract business and charge as much as 400- to 500 percent more after completing their work.

Identity Theft– Customers usually receive decent service and pay the price they expect, but the criminal enterprise providing the service steals their private information to either sell or utilize for themselves.

Cash Only Scam– Scammers pose as locksmiths, and, after “fixing” a customer’s lock, they claim they can only take cash payment due to a broken credit card machine or some other illegitimate excuse. This is in order to prevent the customer from disputing the charge later.

New Handle Scam– Alleged locksmiths will claim that the only way to gain access to a customer’s home is by breaking the handle or wrenching it off. This requires the customer to buy one of the scammer’s overpriced replacements, but the customer doesn’t know this until after the damage is done.

With so many frauds running scams left and right, you might be wondering if it is even possible to find a legitimate locksmith for an affordable price. The key is to select a locksmith before you need one, which will give you time to do a little research and make an educated decision on who to use.

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 or ending up with your pocket picked instead of your lock.Lookout for warning signs like suspiciously low prices, a locksmith in an unmarked vehicle with no company uniform, cash-only policies, a collection of negative reviews online, or the demand for upfront payment. Before you decide to hire a locksmith, it is also wise to ask a series of simple questions to determine credibility. These could include:

Where are you located?

How will you get into my house?

Can you give me a price estimate? Are there any factors that could change that price?

Will you need to drill my lock? If so, why?

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. For a more extensive look at locksmith scams and how to avoid them, visit Mr. Rekey’s Locksmith Scam Survival Guide.

Jamie O'Toole

Jamie is the copywriter and social media coordinator for the digital marketing team at Mr. Rekey Locksmith, America’s Largest Residential LocksmithⓇ. Mr. Rekey is a full-service locksmith that specializes in rekeying locks for homeowners, landlords, and property managers in 30+ major cities across the country. Follow Mr. Rekey on Twitter at @MrRekey