Locked out? Don't fall for these locksmith scams

November 30, -0001

If you're locked out of your home or car, a locksmith can be your lifeline - but make sure you hire a reputable one.

For most homeowners, there are a few life events that call for the services of a locksmith :

  1. When you're moving into a new home (or someone in the home is moving out) and

2. When you've accidentally locked yourself out of your home or car.

A locksmith is a professional contractor who specializes in entry systems such as locks, door knobs and other security features. Today's locksmith offer much more expansive technologically advanced products such as closed-circuit TV monitoring systems, residential fire and burglary alarm systems, remote keyless entry fobs for cars and digital access systems.

While most locksmiths are reputable, a number of scams have cropped up over the years, especially within Massachusetts, from fraudulent locksmiths who offer emergency lockout services. Often flooding phone books with local listings, these sham locksmiths often don't carry the licensing or credentials required.

Angie’s List Tips: Be on the lookout for these warning signs:

  • Be wary of companies that answer calls with generic phrases like “locksmith service,” rather than a specific name. If a locksmith cannot or will not provide the business’ legal name and physical address, find another locksmith.
  • Most legitimate locksmiths will arrive in a clearly marked vehicle and/or in clothing that carries the company logo. At a minimum, the locksmith should have some sort of company identification and/or Association Affiliation.
  • If the locksmith’s on-site price doesn’t match the phone estimate, don’t pay. Fraudulent locksmiths often inflate the final bill and insist the customer pay in cash. Call the local Police Department for assistance with this situation; In most cases, a scammer will immediately leave even without collecting any money for the services rendered.
  • If you’re locked out, be cautious of companies that recommend or insist on drilling or replacing the lock up front. Most experienced locksmiths have the skills and tools to unlock almost any door and will only use a drill for specific types of high security locks.

Picking a locksmith

  • Find a reputable locksmith before you need one: In most cases it's relatively easy to shop around for a locksmith if you’re moving into a new home, but getting locked out is almost always unexpected. Before you're ever locked out of your home or vehicle, find a reputable locksmith before you need one. It's much easier to be taken advantage of when you're in need of quick help and at the mercy of the first locksmith you call.
  • Do your homework: Rather than relying on the phone book, an Internet search or directory assistance, call a few companies to get an estimate on their services before you need them. 
  • Check Association Affiliation/credentails: Locksmiths are not required to be licensed in Massachusetts. Reputable locksmiths will be affilated with aloa.org and/or masslocksmiths.org
  • Know the details beforehand: Get an estimate before any work begins, including emergency service. Ask about extra charges for things like emergency hours, mileage, or service call minimums before you agree to have the work performed. Pay with a credit card so you can have some potential recourse if you run into problems.
  • Store the contact information: Once you find a service provider you're comfortable with, store that company's information in your purse, wallet, or cell phone — some place you're likely to have access to if locked out.

-Angies List