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Locked Out Of House? Beware Of The 24 Hour Locksmith Scam

Locked Out Of House? Beware Of The 24 Hour Locksmith Scam
The scam works like this: Let's say you are in need of a locksmith and find an ad for a technician advertising services for "only $25". You hire them, but at the end of the service you're charged $450. When you try to argue they say the $25 is just the callout charge and doesn't include the labor. However, this labor suddenly becomes much more 'complicated' than it should be.

If you refuse to pay, they threaten to call the Police and even have the guts to ask you to go to an ATM to get cash out. There are cases when crooks even charge over $500.


The questionable locksmith quotes "$25 to come out plus labor and labor starts at about $10 for a basic lock". Once he arrives at the house, the "basic" lock turns out to be a 'high security lock'. This is their most favorite trick to pull. Their original price automatically increases a few times.

Most of the times the lock just needs to be picked, but the crooked locksmith might not tell you that. He only gives you the only "option" available to you. Telling you that the lock might be able to be drilled or pulled open. Of course, the lock will be useless to you at that point (they know this). The locksmith then says: "I may be able to drill it and replace it. I think I have a few extra ones in my trunk." Then he hits you with the whole $250 (or more) bill.

This scam is a classic 'Bait and Switch' scheme. Always settle the labor price when you call for a cheap locksmith service. On the other hand, don't be shy to ask for his license. Tell the contractor over the phone to bring it over when they come.

Any reputable locksmith should ask you for proof that you have permission to enter/break in. Don't sign anything they hand you unless they fill out the "Total" field in their receipt with the amount that they advertised. If he says he is going to use a bumpkey or an inflatable air wedge or a drill, chances are he is going to overcharge you. If he insists on cash only, you know it's a scam. Also, cancel the job if he can't give you an estimate before starting to work on your lock.

On the other hand, if you are having your house rekeyed, ask to see ID of the locksmith and get a written quote before they begin working.  They could keep a copy of your new key and allow themselves into your house at any time or sell the key to criminals.

If the cheap locksmith you found online answers your phone call with a generic expression such as "locksmith services," be very wary. If they can't give a specific business name, look for a different one. Before having the locksmith come out, make sure you get information about any extra charges such as for mileage, service call minimums or emergency hours. Take a look at the locksmith's car; it should be marked, and get the license number.