A lock fails, you are locked out or have lost your keys. You go into panic mode and search for help. Years ago a phonebook was used primarily to find a locksmith. Today almost everyone is using their smartphone to search for help. What used to be an actual search engine has turned into a jungle no different than walking through a seedy section of town after dark, carrying a wad of money in your hand. Scam Artists from foriegn countries, mostly Isreal, are posing as a local locksmith company.
They lure you in with a cheap price in the ad or all kinds of claims for discounts. In reality, they will only damage your locks and charge you an excessive amount. Many unsuspecting consumers have been charge thoushands of dollars for a service that should have only been close to one huundred dollars. Yes the ad said $15 lockout service, but that was only for the service call.
Reputable locksmiths will qoute you the total price after asking numerous questions. Ask for the total and the worst case scenario price and let them know that you are holding them to this. These scammers send out undocumented Foriegn workers, who they know will appear as middle east terrorists. These workers are from isreal and most have come here after serving in the military. They will threaten you with bodily harm if you do not pay them. The number you called has connected you to some far away place where the mastermind has call takers who sound just like you or me. Demand to talk to the locksmith who is coming out, before he comes and again go over the price. I am sure that there are legitimate locksmiths who have legaly immigrated here from the middle east and provide excellent service, but be very cautios when dealing with someone who sounds like something may no be proper.
I require my locksmiths to call the customer before they head out and they are required to qoute the price again. This protects both my company and the customer. Many customers have a hard time understanding why I will not send someone out unless they can call the customer and talk to them first.
The Scammers usually use generic names like Always in Service or All Hours. They also frequently use numerous city names with the word locksmith like Erie Locksmith. There are legitimate locksmiths who do name their business after the town they are in, so do not rule out one of these. If you see a whole list towns with locksmith after the city name on a search engine you have probably found a scammer.
If the locksmith shows up with a large prybar, drill or a pipewrench be cautious. Almost all locks can be opened without destroying the lock, unless the lock has failed. Some locks that have not been used for quite some time or ones full of dirt may also require drilling.
Most search engines have now turned into paid advertising sites. The ads are very expensive and cost $60 and up per click, making them unaffordable for legitimate locksmiths. If someone has to pay $60+ for everyone that clicks on their ad, they are going to have to charge you a very high price.
You can also look for a trademarked name like POPaLock or Dr Auto Lock, but you should not rule out not so well-known names. The safest bet is to use a phone book or a referral from someone you know.