The Scam

 

Gary Harper from channel 3 News AZ Family 3 On Your Side did an investigative interview about the phony locksmith scam going on in the Phoenix area confronting a locksmith scammer that charge a $926.86 bill, several hundreds of dollars over what even the highest legislate locksmith bid would have been. The scammers confronted denies it being him saying Gary Harper can check it out even though he held a file with the consumer's complaint. He even informed the scammers that the consumer wasn't happy and was posting flyers about the issue. The scammer also stated “every locksmith has a different price and this is the price for the company that I work with.”

3 on Your Side also spoke with a young girl who was scammed at a softball park after locking her keys in her bag inside her vehicle. She was quoted $55 to unlock the car but was charged $289.67 for the completed job. The company called 247 Locksmith Services was the one responsible for charging the extra $185 after she handing over her debit card with a $55 quote before the work was completed. A classic bait-and-switch scheme in the industry.

They also spoke with a professional local locksmith in Phoenix by the name of Charley “Locksmith Charley” Eastwood, who is the South West Director of ALOA and also a member of the Arizona Professional Locksmith Association. He spoke about the consumer fraud and gave some educational advice on how to avoid being scammed. He made the consumer's and viewers aware by saying to sign immediately below the line item if an invoice is given to you prior to the work being completed. The most important piece of information Locksmith Charley gave was to find the local locksmiths in your neighborhood and place their number in your phone or get it placed where you can access it in an emergency. APLA recommends the gas tank compartment.

It is alway a good idea to learn about a problem you may encounter that could potentially result in you being scammed before the issue is confronted. You might not think you will ever need a locksmith but the day you do, we beat the last thing you want is to be taking for well over the cost it should have been.

Society of Professional Locksmiths video "What is a Locksmith Scam" on YouTube

The Society of Professional Locksmiths (SOPL) promotes the educational advancements and economic interests of its members. It is committed to improving conditions and raising standards through the delivery of education and peer review. It is a professional organization that embraces all levels of skill and expertise. Through education and support, the Society provides its members the skills needed to succeed and provides a voice for its members who are faced with unreasonable entrepreneurial interference. The information presented here in this presentation is the result dozens of news reports, years of research, legal cases, court findings, and public domain. Many thanks to dedicated personnel who’ve investigated these cases. Please exercise caution when searching for a locksmith. Your results will vary.

 

thumb poster conmenSo you have heard us talk about being aware of the locksmith scammers but you're not sure what the scam is. You don’t know how to identify the scam and you don’t know how to protect yourself. In this article we will cover what the scam is and how you can better prepare yourself.

So you've locked your keys in your car or you locked yourself out of your house and you need help. What do you do? You crack out your smart phone, Google search "Locksmith near me" and an add pops up saying "$15 service call and up" or "Car opening starting at $30.". You're relieved you're not going to have to spend an arm and a leg to get on with your day so you call them.

They answer the phone "Locksmith", you ask them about the advertisement, they are short and agreeable and are persistent on getting your info and just sending a "locksmith" out to help you. They don’t ask you any info about your situation and when you offer info they simply dismiss it and say the technician will look at it when he gets to you. They tell you it will only be a few minutes and the tech is on his way.

After waiting for 45 minutes or more the "Locksmith" arrives. He quickly gives you some generic excuse like "the lock is too old" or "the lock is to new" or sometimes "this is a high security lock and needs special tools or needs to be drilled". At this point the $15-$30 service call jumps to hundred and sometimes thousands of dollars. The technician makes you feel pressured and threatened and you feel obligated to allow him to complete the work.

There might be some variations to this story depending on your specific circumstances but generally this is how the interaction unfolds. So to make things very clear, until a technician starts work you are under no obligation to allow him to do the job. You can ask him to leave and you do not owe him any money. If the technician insists that you pay him money, call the police right away. Do not tell him you're calling the police, just make the call and cease your interaction at that point.

When dealing with a legitimate locksmith your interaction is much different. When you make the initial call you should be greeted with the name of the company or at least the name of the person you're speaking with. If not, ask for the company name. If they don’t give you one or say "the company name is locksmith" that might be a sign you are dealing with a scammer.

When you're speaking with a legitimate locksmith over the phone they will ask you questions about the service you're requesting. They should be able to give you a fairly accurate price quote over the phone or at the very least a ball park figure. When they arrive on site and assess the situation; if there is another problem or something that was left out they will discuss that with you. They will also discuss any price increase with you prior to starting any work.

The entire conversation shouldn’t make you feel pressured. You should have a sense of confidence in the person you're hiring to do the job. The best way to ensure you're dealing with a legitimate locksmith is to find one when you have time to verify their legitimacy and store their number in your phone. That way no matter what emergency comes up you know you have a trusted locksmith by your side.

3 On Your Side out of Phoenix, AZ did a special a while ago with some helpful tips for consumers. A Goodyear, AZ family was looking for a local locksmith in their area and came across a company called 24/7 locksmith. They had a local number and looked to be a locksmith in Phoenix. He was quoted $20 a door and a $19 service call. He thought he was getting a good deal and was glad to have his new home secured. When the technician arrived the invoice quickly jumped to over $160 for the service. The customer went ahead and paid it but was shocked when the bill on the invoice suddenly changed to over $460. The technician obviously was not a trustworthy Phoenix Locksmith and pulled a bait and switch tactic on the customer to extort more money out of him. ktkv

Because the Locksmith Industry in Phoenix, AZ is unregulated it is real easy for consumers to be scammed and they have no recourse if they do get taken advantage of Gary Harper with 3 on your side recommends you only work with a locksmith that is registered with The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) which is a great start. There are other locksmith organizations that you can trust as well like The Society of Professional Locksmiths (SOPL) and the Arizona Professional Locksmith Association. These organizations do background checks on all of their members and verify they are indeed real locksmiths.