Trending Locksmith Scam Could Cost You Money

Trending Locksmith Scam Could Cost You Money

AAA Members Have Secret Weapon Against Fake Locksmiths
Kip Doyle
lockout house

You try to unlock the door to your car or home and suddenly realize that you don’t have your key. If your next step is to look up a locksmith on the Web, you’re not alone. But according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), scammers are lurking among online listings for locksmiths.

The scam often involves imitating the name and logo of an existing locksmith to prompt phone calls from unsuspecting people in need. The crooks will usually answer the phone with a generic “Hello, locksmith services,” the BBB said in a press release.

When the fake locksmith arrives, they may raise the price on their work way beyond what was originally quoted. Or, they might claim they need to drill into your door and sell you a new expensive replacement lock. Even worse: The criminals know your personal information and how to access your home or vehicle.

The BBB shares these tips to avoid locksmith scams:

  • Critique their advertising. Look closely at the business's advertisements. Is the specific name of the business clearly identified? Does the ad look similar to other ads but have a different name? Does it appear that the dealer actually operates under several names?
  • Ask plenty of questions. Most consumer complaints concern fees that were not disclosed when they called the locksmith. Ask about the cost of a service call, mileage, and parts before you agree to have the work performed. Get an estimate before any work begins, including emergency service. If the on-site estimate doesn't match the price quoted on the telephone, have the job done by someone else.
  • Check identification. Most legitimate locksmiths will arrive in a clearly marked vehicle and provide identification. Remember that you will be allowing a stranger into your home.
  • Be wary of “necessary” drilling. Understand that it isn’t routine for a locksmith to insist on drilling the lock to open it. Most locksmiths have the skills to open almost any lock.
  • Demand an invoice. You can't dispute a charge without proof of how much you paid and what you paid for. Insist on an itemized invoice that includes parts, labor, mileage and service charges. The invoice should also include the business name and address. Use your credit card to pay for locksmith services for added security.

The BBB recommends looking up prospective locksmiths on BBB.org or view the BBB Directory for Locksmiths Near You. Hiring a BBB Accredited Locksmith will give you peace of mind that this business is not a scam. 

AAA members have a secret weapon against lockout scams thanks to AAA’s lockout services. AAA’s roadside technicians can unlock most vehicles, but in the event they cannot, all membership levels have vehicle lockout service. AAA Basic members get up to $50 and AAA Plus members up to $100 in coverage or reimbursement. AAA Premier members get vehicle and home lockout coverage or reimbursement up to $100.

AAA contracts with locksmiths for vehicle lockouts in most regions, but members in rural areas will sometimes reach out to a locksmith directly if necessary. AAA Premier members who have a home lockout will also need to contact a residential locksmith directly. In these instances, follow the BBB’s guidance to make sure your locksmith is the real deal and not a scam artist.

Do you know someone who could use locksmith service from AAA? Make sure the people you care about aren’t locked out by adding an associate to your membership for as little as $41.

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