Locksmith Scam

Posted: August 19, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Each day up to 250,000 Americans make emergency calls to locksmiths. And judging by the Yellow pages or an online search, there’s plenty of help nearby. For instance in Silver Springs Maryland, the telephone directory lists five locksmiths on the same street. In reality these addresses are for a dry cleaner and four restaurants. A few states away, within a three mile radius 12 locksmiths are listed online. These addressees include a school, a supermarket, two pizzerias, and a clump of trees. Only one is for an actual locksmith; the others may be scammers waiting to get your call.
The prevalence of locksmiths is a scam that is only growing, says Jim Hancock of the Association of Locksmiths of America (AOL), whose 6,000 members must pass background checks. Besides the thousands of honest pros (who generally charge about $100 to pick a lock), there are many more rip-off artists. In addition to phony addresses they often have toll-free phone numbers. “The overwhelming majority of locksmiths with an 800 number are not legitimate,” says Hancock. Typically, your connected to a call center. You may be quoted a price as low as $15 and assured that a locksmith is en route. In reality the prop arrives in a van with no fixed address and a scam in mind.’ The fraudsters usually say they can’t open the door and need to drill or break the lock and install a replacement,” says Hancock. The work is faulty plus expensive — often$1,000 or more, and demanded in cash. Here are some tips to help you protect yourself — and your door:
 First, find a reputable locksmith before you need one. Get references from friends and neighbors, the Better business Bureau or at http://www.aloa.org Log the details into your Cellphone.
 Avoid any firm that answers the phone with a generic phrase such as “locksmith services” rather than with a specific company name.
 Be wary of locksmiths who arrive in unmarked cars or vans. Legitimate locksmiths usually have a van with the company name.
 Ask for the ID with name and address. ALOA members carry a membership card and can be vetted at 214-819-9733. Only 14 states and some cities require that on all service calls locksmiths carry proof that they are licensed. Licensing states are AL, CA, Maryland has adopted , nut not yet implemented licensing.
 Get a written estimate on company letterhead, with mileage charges, minimums and other fees, before work begins. Get a receipt after you pay.
 If you’re told the lock has to be drilled and replaced, find another locksmith. Experienced and legitimate locksmiths can unlock almost any door.
[Source: AARP Bulletin Scam Alert Sid Kirchheimer article Jun 2012 ++]

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