The locksmith industry is one of the most frequently scammed. It’s an unfortunate reality, but with a bit of effort, it’s easy enough to avoid the scammers and find a legitimate, trained locksmith. A big part of avoiding scams is staying in the know. Read on for more about a new locksmith scam, and always make sure you’re calling a licensed locksmith for work you can trust.
Firstline Locksmith is licensed, bonded, and insured, and we have been serving Hamilton and all of New Jersey for more than 30 years. From commercial locksmith needs like access control systems to residential help like lock repair, we have the training and experience to provide excellent service every time.
The most common type of locksmith scam out there is when an individual who poses as a locksmith quotes a low-ball price for work, then charges a much higher amount after the work has been completed, claiming they “needed specialty tools” or something similar to explain the surprise jump in cost. We’ve explored ways you can protect yourself from these kinds of scams in past blogs. The long and short of it is to look for branding, read reviews online, and always ask for license information — which you can look up in your state’s online database to verify.
The good news is that, thanks to the Internet, it’s harder and harder for scammers to pass themselves off as reputable locksmiths. Reviews sites, the Better Business Bureau, and online government database checkers make it easier than ever for individuals to do a bit of due diligence before paying a locksmith to perform any sort of service. Even if you get locked out of your house or car, odds are good you’ll have access to a smartphone that you can use to check on a locksmith before you call.
The New Scam
The latest information on locksmith scam attempts comes from KIRO 7 out of Seattle. According to the story, Judi Gibbs called a locksmith she knew of, and one who has served the area for decades, to have her locks rekeyed. A technician arrived, said he was from the locksmith company in question, and got to work. When he was done, the technician said he replaced the locks, rather than simply rekeying them, and charged far more than expected.
When Gibbs called the owner of the locksmith company, an experienced locksmith with whom she has worked before, he explained that the technician who did the work wasn’t a member of his team. This led to calls to both the police and her bank to stop the charge, which now appeared to be fraudulent. While speaking to the police, more information about this new scam came to light.
It appears that scammers are now able to hijack phone calls placed from smartphones. Specifically, it appears that scammers are targeting those “call now” buttons that you can click on a locksmith’s website, which dial the number automatically when used on a smartphone. Scammers have developed technology that allows them to divert the call to a different number, which then allows the scammer to show up instead of the legitimate locksmith.
How Do I Avoid This Scam?
There are no visual cues to know when this type of scam happens, unfortunately. Most scammers have put in enough effort to reasonably mimic the company they are pretending to be — which means they’ll have a branded shirt or something similar, and know the basic details of that company to rattle off when customers ask. In order to avoid these scams, you’ll need to practice some caution.
In a best-case scenario, program a locksmith’s phone number into your phone. Choose a company you know, and double-check that number before you need to rely on it. If you don’t have time to scope out a recommendation, listen to how the phone is answered. If you hear a generic “locksmith” instead of a specific company’s name, be wary. Also, take time to check that the phone number you get from the “call now” button is the same as that on the contact page of the website, or on their Google Maps listing.