Anchorage, Alaska — Oct. 18, 2016 — Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest has received numerous complaints regarding locksmiths who aren’t upfront about their fees. The latest comes from a company out of California that serves as a referral service, which enlists contractors to do the actual work. Customers have complained that the price quoted is lower than what is actually charged.
While there are legitimate locksmith businesses, consumers should be mindful of pricing gimmicks that can trick them into spending more. The Society of Professional Locksmiths (SOPL) warns of fake locksmiths using phony websites to profit from desperate motorists and residents.
Here’s how it works: When a person is locked out they go online and search “locksmith” in their service area. Often times they come across a legitimate looking website offering a small fee to unlock a door. But when the locksmith shows up they claim the job is bigger than initially thought and end up charging much more than originally agreed upon. In some cases, the “locksmith” isn’t properly trained and ends up damaging the door.
Look out for these red flags, when hiring a locksmith:
- Dispatcher is vague. The SOPL recommends asking the locksmith dispatcher the name of the company and its location. Scammers will use generic phrases without actually naming the company.
- No license. Ask the company if they have a business license and then look them up on your state’s licensing website to make sure they are operating in the city legally.
- Open ended prices. Beware if the locksmith is offering a fee for “$19 and up.” It is very rare to pay the lowest price. Ask the locksmith for the final service fee. Don’t feel pressured to pay if you aren’t satisfied with the cost.
- Doesn’t look the part. You can typically spot a fake locksmith if they arrive without proper identification or in an unmarked vehicle.
Check with BBB to find a trustworthy locksmith company. Anyone who believes they may be a victim of a locksmith scam can report the incident to BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker.