Redfin’s marketing team contacted 1800-Unlocks to be included in an article entitled Top Experts Answer the Most Urgent Home Security Questions. Only a portion of our answer made it into their article, so we thought it would be fun to share all of our thoughts on the 1800-Unlocks blog.
The question we were asked was: How Do You Spot Locksmith Fraud?
Sadly, I have realized that this is a very hard question to answer. Fake locksmiths have been a huge thorn in the side of real locksmiths since the 1980s. The issue of fake listings started in the phone books and then exploded with the Internet when the fake locksmiths realized that there was little to no oversight regarding listing authenticity and accuracy. These companies were able to spam the phone books, online directories, and maps with thousands and fake listings and phone numbers to generate confusion in the marketplace. We did a piece of this entitled Locksmith Fraud In America. Locksmiths have tried to combat the proliferation of this scam using media awareness, legal recourse, and regulation.
The fact is that real locksmiths are typically family-owned businesses with unique approaches to operating their businesses. We do our best to present ourselves honestly and professionally but it’s easy for fraudsters to imitate real locksmiths and that makes it easy for fraudsters to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers.
Who you choose to invite into your home it is a serious decision. Locksmiths become aware of very personal information such as where you live, how to get into your house, and even where you keep your home safe. We know you are entrusting us with your safety and personal information, so we want you to choose a reputable company.
On that note, I think consumers should be aware and:
1) Do research ahead of time. Call around, check reviews, get their business license, locksmith license, and insurance information.
2) Check websites and Facebook pages for authentic pictures.
3) Get an upfront quote and if the scope of work changes on site, agree on pricing before allowing them to proceed.
4) If you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to call the police.
5) Get a receipt when the job is completed.
After polling a group of about 1,000 locksmiths, most locksmiths agree that the big issues that should throw red flags are:
-No upfront pricing or super low pricing upfront.
-Non-work appropriate vehicle. Ie unmarked sedan.
-No business name on invoices
-No tax collected on paperwork.
-No business card or identification
-Bait and switch pricing (low price upfront ie $15, $19, $29 service fee, then huge bill once the job is done).
-The locksmith immediately resorts to drilling the lock.
To this day the problem persists. Locksmith fraud is very hard to spot, especially to the untrained eye. This is exactly why we are so passionate about increasing the exposure of the 1800-Unlocks locksmith directory. Our goal is for there to be one place on the Internet with a real community of peer-reviewed locksmiths wherein customers can be guaranteed they’ll be safe no matter who they call. We hope this information has been helpful!