More often than not we only need locksmith services when we are in an emergency. Imagine coming home after a long day and realizing that you lost your keys or putting your key in and it gets stuck. In such situations, we tend to make desperate decisions. Ideally, you suppose to have phone numbers of reliable local locksmiths on your phone, but 99.99 percent of us don’t. so, If you find yourself in such an unfortunate situation and there is no locksmith number to call you may start to panic and start searching for “locksmith near me in Toronto” on Google. In the end, you may carelessly go for whoever appears first in the search result.
Unfortunately, many people have done that and ended up being scammed by fraudulent locksmiths who took advantage of their desperate situation. So, Can you trust a locksmith? Or in general, are locksmiths trustworthy? What are the common locksmith scams and how can you avoid being a victim?
Can You Trust Locksmith?
There are many reliable locksmiths in the market but so are fraudsters. Fraudulent locksmiths understand that you are panic and will use that to defraud you. They usually trick you to pay exorbitant fees for a low-quality job. Most of the time they would destroy your lock and ask you to buy a new one for an exorbitant price. Therefore, it is advisable not to trust a locksmith that doesn’t prove beyond doubt that he is genuine. But how can you distinguish between reliable locksmiths and fraudulent ones? But first, let us look at the common locksmith scams
Common Locksmith Scams
Below are the common practices of fake locksmiths:
1. They Advertize Non Existing companies
They advertise locksmith companies that do not exist. They are neither registered nor professionals. They would just look for pictures, state their phone number, and put up an online advertisement for locksmith services. They will ensure their adverts rank high so that they would be the first Google would send to you. Even though they don’t indicate any physical address, they are always near to you. They would wait for you to mention your location before they state theirs.
2. They Lure You Into Hiring Them
They would give you a very cheap quotation so that you can hire them. Once you agreed on the fees, they would transfer you to one of their partners that is nearest to you to continue the scam
3. They Destroy Your Lock and Change the Charges
The person that would come to you would give different excuses for why your lock cannot be picked. They would eventually destroy it and then ask you to buy a new one. That way, the locksmith services you need will change, becoming more complicated. They would now be able to charge you for the lock replacement, lock change, lock installation, drilling, picking, rekeying, and many other things you never discussed before. At the end of the day, you would be paying ten times what you planned.
To avoid all these scams and similar ones, you must only hire a genuine locksmith. But how do you identify one?
How Do I Know If My Locksmith is Real?
The best way to avoid a locksmith scam is to always look for a genuine locksmith when you are not in an emergency. There will certainly be some local locksmith near you. Even if you don’t know any, you can always Google Locksmith near me in Toronto. Then visit the locksmiths, observe their operations. Ensure you choose a 24-hour locksmith because you never can tell when you will need a lock repair. As many as you are satisfied with, save their phone numbers on your phone. So, when you are in an emergency and need locksmith services, you will know the number to call. But unfortunately, many people will not plan for an emergency until it has happened. Well, that does not mean you can still not manage the situation effectively. The following steps can help you identify real locksmiths even when you are in desperate need of one.
1. Get Recommendation
Even if you don’t have the number of a locksmith on your phone you should have the number of someone who can recommend a reliable locksmith. So, call your colleagues, family members, and friends and ask for a recommendation. If your friend has hired a locksmith before and the friend was satisfied with the locksmith services, then it is likely that you will also get a satisfactory service from the locksmith.
2. Read Reviews
If you must Google “Locksmith Near Me” don’t just go for the first search result. Also, read what previous customers are saying about the company. Online reviews are great tools to assess the quality of services rendered by different companies. It can also help you during the time you are locked out. Unsatisfied customers and numerous one-star reviews are evidence that you should look elsewhere
3. Contact The Locksmith Association in Your Area
Instead of searching for a locksmith online, you can search for the locksmith association’s contact number. Then contact the association and ask them to link you with a reliable locksmith. You know the association will never link you with a fraudster.
4. Check the Physical Address
The easiest way to confirm the legitimacy of a locksmith is to check if they have a physical address and verify that it is their actual location. This is what you must do when searching for a Locksmith Near You in Toronto and the GTA. Even before contacting them, check their website for an address. Also, check directory and Google listings for customer reviews. Never hire a locksmith who does not give concrete, researchable, and adequate information about their business.
Call and ask for the registered business name and where their technicians are based. Many companies purporting to be legitimate locksmith companies are call centers. Once you call them, they sub-contract the job to a locksmith near you. They are conglomerates who can subcontract all projects, so they seek to cover large geographic areas. If the company name refers to a large geographical area, that is a red flag.
5. Check the Vehicle
A registered, professional locksmith company will provide their technicians with uniforms or name tags, tools, and a company vehicle. The vehicles have an identifiable company logo, name, and address. A technician with a marked car is likely to offer better services, and you can hold them accountable for any arising issues. Check and confirm that the vehicle is appropriately marked and write down the license number.
A regular, unmarked car signals the possibility of a scam. Scamming companies sometimes use removable magnetic signs because they conduct their fraudulent business using multiple fake company names. Be cautious if the locksmith comes in a vehicle advertising a different company from the one you hired.
6. Check their Credentials
A reputable locksmith must be licensed, bonded, and insured. When you call, ensure you inform the dispatcher that you must see the technician’s identification documents and license. Additionally, you can check for accreditation by the associations of locksmiths, though many reliable locksmiths are not members. Such information is available on the associations’ websites. As part of standard locksmith procedures, a legitimate technician should ask you for your identification or other documents to prove that the car or home they are unlocking belongs to you.
How to Spot a Locksmith Scam
However, all these steps are to guide you to invite the right Locksmith, after he arrives, it is still your responsibility to be sure he is the right man for the job. If your friend has recommended a locksmith for you and the locksmith turned out to be a fraudster, it will still be your loss. Also, online reviews are just a guide, they are not foolproof. So, here are ways to identify a fraudulent locksmith.
1. Watch Out for Excuses
Sometimes, it is not possible to pick your lock, and it may require drilling. However, this only happens in exceptional situations. A qualified, legitimate locksmith will have the tools and skills to unlock any lock without damaging it. They will rarely recommend drilling.
Fake locksmiths are notorious for drilling locks. The scammer will work on the lock for a few minutes, then tell you that yours is a high-security lock installation and cannot be picked. He will tell you that your lock can only be drilled. You will be safer if you do not allow them to drill it. Drilling will mutilate your lock, and you must purchase a brand new replacement. The scammer will charge you exorbitant fees for the lock and installation even though the replacement is of low quality.
2. Beware of Fluctuating Prices
A reputable company will not change the price they quoted drastically. If the price changes, it only varies by a negligible margin. Additionally, a reliable locksmith will ask for payment only after you are satisfied with the job. Fraudulent technicians will inflate the bill or demand payment for substandard services. Do not pay until you are happy with the result. If the person threatens to call the police, let them go ahead or offer to do it on their behalf. Their actions are unethical, they do not operate within the law, and they stand to lose the most.
Ask about the available payment methods. Find out if you can pay using a check. Fake locksmiths insist on cash payments, and only accept a debit card if you do not have enough cash. However, they avoid credit cards because you can easily trace them and you can also contest the charges.
3. Note If Their Charges Are Too Low
If it is too good, be careful. Many fraudulent locksmiths will give you a quote that is far below the industrial standard. They only want to entice you to hire them. Once you give them the job. They will destroy your lock and tell you the job is more difficult than what you told them. Now they will give you a new quote twenty times the initial quote. Therefore, if the charges are too low, know that it is a scam. Ask yourself, why will any locksmith charge as low as this and still remain in business?
4. Note If They Take Too Long to Arrive
So you have searched Locksmith Near Me in Toronto and GTA, and the company has claimed to be in Toronto, 5 kilometers away from you. It shouldn’t take ten minutes before their agent arrives at your place. But you have to wait for almost an hour before someone arrives. Know immediately that it is a scam. The fraudster is likely located far away from you.
5. Check Identity
A real locksmith will come with the company’s car with the company’s name and logo. They will also have a certified ID. But fake ones don’t have any means of identification. Their cars bear no logo. If at all they come in a car with the company’s logo, it will be a temporary logo.
6. Ask Questions
Most client complaints revolve around undisclosed fees. Look for reviews of locksmiths within your area and pay attention to any review that mentions hidden charges. The research will also provide you with an idea of the average estimate for the locksmith services you are seeking. When you call the company, ask about service call fees, parts, mileage, and emergency service before you agree to hire a locksmith. If the quoted price sounds too good, it probably is. Even then, do not hesitate to ask the locksmith about potential unexpected or hidden charges.
Get a written price estimate before the work begins and avoid any locksmith that does not give you an estimate. If the technician is unwilling to provide a written estimate before commencing the job, end the agreement. A good locksmith can provide an estimate that is almost accurate, or that differs slightly from the actual cost. A slight difference should not bother you. However, if the telephone estimate varies significantly from the on-site estimate, look for someone else to do the job.
How To Prevent Locksmith Scam
It is not enough to know the tricks of fake locksmiths, it is important to be able to prevent being scammed. So how can you prevent being scammed by locksmiths? The following tips will help you.
Ways to Avoid Being Scammed by a Locksmith
- Ask for a written quotation indicating maximum and minimum charges
- Never allow a locksmith to drill your lock
- Confirm locksmith identity before they commence work
- Do not hire in panic
- If you suspect foul play, do not proceed with the deal. You are not under compulsion to hire even after the technician has arrived.
- Ask for the receipt of every payment made
- Report to the regulatory authority if you feel cheated
You can also save yourself the stress of going with several keys which may lead to loss of your keys by simply getting a master lock and master key from a reliable company.
Whether you are locked out of your house or your office, it is natural to panic and be desperate to save the situation. Home, office or car lockout can easily frustrate us to carelessly hire a fraudulent locksmith and become victims of their scams. However, it is important during such an emergency period to be calm and ensure we hire the right locksmith.
To identify a reliable locksmith. To get a reliable locksmith to help you during home or office lockout it is always advisable to search for them before you need them. Request recommendations from family, friends, and colleagues. You can also request a recommendation from their association. When you search online for a locksmith, make sure you also read reviews. And when the locksmith arrives, ask for identification. Also, ask as many questions as possible and insist on a written quotation on the company’s letterhead. After all these, if you feel cheated, don’t hesitate to report to the regulatory body.