BEWARE of "locksmith" SCAMMERS!!
Are you aware of the "locksmith" scams that are currently plaguing America? They are real, and they are here in Florida. In fact, there is a major call center in Tampa. These scams prey on the consumer when they are the most vulnerable- when they have an emergency such as a car or home lockout. The scammers have blanketed the phone books and the internet (mostly in large markets; more on that later) with multiple listings under various names. So many people go straight to the phone book, online through computers and cell phones, and even through their cell provider's 411 services that it is very easy to be given the name of one of these illegitimate companies.
What is the scam? When you call for a "locksmith" to unlock your home or car, you will be quoted a low price (usually $29-$35). When they arrive, they'll tell you that you have a special car, a difficult lock to open or some other issue and that it will cost more to perform the service. Most consumers, feeling that they are now stuck, will often ok the higher cost, even if they have no idea what that cost is. If the customer balks at the invoice, these people are trained to pressure you to pay. They operate on a cash only basis. This is to further conceal who they are since cash is very difficult to trace. If you get an invoice, it will be very vague and be missing any company information. Many consumers have been charged hundreds of dollars to drill open an easy to pick lock and replace it with an extremely cheap quality piece of hardware.
How can you protect yourself? The easiest way to protect yourself is to find a reputable locksmith before you need one. There are many ways to find a reputable, honest locksmith. Check with your local chamber of commerce or a local or regional locksmith association. Some online services provide information on companies that have passed extensive background checks. I have listed some website links below and a copy of a brochure that we hand out which will give you many more tips on finding a good locksmith.
What do you do if you feel you have been victimized? Well, let's hope this article will help you to avoid becoming a victim. But if you think you are dealing with a scammer, call the police and let them figure it out. If you don't call while the "locksmith" is there, contact the police and even the attorney general's office to report the incident. The attorney general in particular, is very aware of the problem. Any information you can provide them will help them build their case against these folks.