You just locked yourself out of your home or car. At least you have your phone and you can call someone, right? But who do you a call? A quick internet search produces thousands of choices, available at just the push of a button. Who should you choose?
Although online or app-enabled, on-demand services may make your life easier in some ways, it may also make you more susceptible to scams. The home services industry, in particular, is rife with scammers contracted by call centers who provide substandard or deliberately costlier services.
Here are some hints to help you avoid the common locksmith scams:
Check for a License
Only fifteen states require commercial locksmith professionals to obtain state-issued licenses: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. If you live in one of these states, never work with an unlicensed locksmith professional. When a technician arrives to perform work, make sure you ask to see their license and an additional form of state-issued identification (driver's license, etc.).
Demand an Estimate
Regardless of the cost, you may have quoted over the phone, it's important to have an on-site cost estimate. This is particularly important before allowing a locksmith technician to perform any services demand an estimate. On scam often perpetrated on unsuspecting customers is bait and switching; initially baiting by quoting a tantalizingly low price, only to switch after services have been rendered to a much higher price.
Pay with Plastic
One of the biggest problems with on-demand service technicians is that they show up and disappear, often without leaving much of a trace. If you pay with cash, you are essentially ending the transaction, but you're also leaving yourself vulnerable. What happens if the workmanship is defective or causes unforeseen issues? Paying with plastic creates a digital footprint and involves a third-party, your credit card company, to help you track down your locksmith.
Not only should you be sure to keep (and demand) a receipt for the products and services rendered, but it's also a good idea to jot down your technician's license and license plate number. Like a credit card, this information can be vital if you suspect that you've been scammed or were the intended victim of a scam.
Few things are more helpful than a locksmith at the ready when you've locked your keys in your car or locked yourself out of your house.