You’ve locked yourself out of the house and need a locksmith. You frantically scroll through your smartphone, looking for a company to help. And soon, you’re paying $1,000 for a job that should have cost $100.
You’ve fallen prey to a little-know scam: fake locksmith ads online.
According to Costco Connection, scammers create false ads to attract their victims. “The ads typically tout a low-price service call—for example, $15 or $19. The address they use may be fake or belong to another business or location.” When you call, you’re connected to a call center that dispatches a worker. Upon arrival, the worker tells you that the job will cost much more than the estimate you were quoted. What’s more, he only takes cash.
To avoid falling victim to this scam, Costco Connection offers these tips:
Find a locksmith before you need one: Use your network of friends to find a trustworthy company. This will ensure you aren’t taken in by a fake company at a desperate moment.
Check with the Association of Locksmiths of America (ALOA) and the Society of Professional Locksmiths (sopl.us). Both organizations certify locksmiths and offer a search tool online to locate someone who is legitimate in your area.
Buy a roadside assistance plan for lockouts. This way, a reputable company will provide the locksmith when you find yourself locked out of your car.
Ask for a locksmith’s license, registration and insurance.
Confirm the price of the job before a locksmith gets started. Be sure the estimate is in writing and on business letterhead. Also, request a receipt on business letterhead that includes a detailed list of parts, services and the locksmith’s address and phone number.
Pay with a credit card. This way, you can dispute an unfair charge.
Call police if the locksmith becomes threatening or intimidating.
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