Locksmith Scam Alerts
Locksmith scams are just as prevalent in Tacoma as anywhere else. There are a variety of different scams that occur, and they typically rely on the victim to be unquestioning, compliant and accepting. The reason the locksmith industry is often targeted is because the turnaround is typically fairly quick and the customers are often in distress. After a service is rendered the victim may feel like they must pay or may face legal actions. The most common scam victim’s encounter is the bait-and-switch.
The setup: The victim is locked out of their car or home and searches Google for a local locksmith. They click on what they believe is a local company and are unknowingly directed to a call center that may not even be in the state. The dispatch at the center tells the caller they are sending someone out and quotes them a reasonable price.
The rub: The call center then sells the victim’s “lead” to a local locksmith. This is what’s known as lead generation or just lead-gen. They may work with one in particular in the area or several. Once the locksmith arrives they will claim there is much more work that needs doing and it will cost multiple times more.
What you can do: It can be difficult to spot a lead generation scam. There are some steps you can take, however.
- Don’t click on ad-words. Use the organic results. Approach map listings with caution.
- Check the reviews. Make sure that reviews are local and reflect the quality of service you want. Check the BBB listing as well.
- Ask questions. Ask questions you want answers to. Can they guarantee the estimate or a maximum? Are you speaking directly to the company that will be assisting you, and if not, can they connect you directly to the company that will be assisting you. Ask if you can have the number of the locksmith that will be helping you. See if you can speak with them directly.Other questions to ask include whether they are licensed and what the registered business name is. Inform the dispatcher you’ll be requiring a written estimate before service is rendered and request to view the technician’s ID when they arrive. Washington State locksmiths are not required to be licensed, though other states do require this. Most importantly of all, trust your instincts. Make sure the locksmith explains in full why they must do anything and how much it will cost beforehand. If you get a bad feeling, cut your losses before you get services.
If work hasn’t yet begun, it is not too late to walk away.
A typical scam is to disassemble the lock or do half the job and then demand a drastically higher rate to finish the job.
Always remember to do the following:
- Note the locksmith’s vehicle and license number. Be wary if the vehicle is unmarked or the locksmith seems unprofessional.
- Request a written estimate. If the locksmith performs an inspection and declines to provide one, do not proceed further.
- Do not let a locksmith you do not trust drill your lock. This is a red flag. Locks rarely need drilling, especially in the case of a vehicle. Home locks can typically be opened through other means. If your lock needs drilling request a complete explanation and investigate alternatives.
- Unless you agree with the estimate, do not hand over cash or a credit card. Ask what forms of payment they accept before work begins. Another red flag is a locksmith that only accepts cash.