Welcome back to the Top Notch Locksmith blog! Last time, we started discussing how common it is for scammers to pose as locksmiths as a quick and easy way to cheat people and make money. This practice is, unfortunately, pretty common across the nation. In order to protect yourself from being caught up in this pernicious practice, we’ve collected a few tips and things to look for when you need a locksmith. Be sure to check back to our previous post for the full scoop about how locksmith scammers usually work and what to look for before you call. This includes:

Internet Presence

In our current age of the internet, finding information online is easier than ever. Of course, it’s also really easy to build a website that looks legitimate, even when the work isn’t. Before you even contact one of the companies in your online search, you’ll want to check for a couple different things. First, look for licensing, certifications, insurance, and/or bonding. Each state has different requirements, however, so it’s also a good idea to check reputable review sites for others’ experiences. In addition, look for a social media presence, especially on the more professional sites like Google+ or Linkedin as well as a Facebook business page.

Ask Questions

Those of us who are legitimate locksmiths don’t want your experience spoiled by scammers. When you call us to ask about getting help, feel free to ask questions! This can help you feel more comfortable as well as help you gauge legitimacy and any legitimate locksmith will want to do all they can to help you trust them. Questions you may want to ask include:

  1. Are you licensed/insured/bonded? – Each state has different rules, which means that not all locksmiths need to be licensed. But most that aren’t licensed will be bonded and/or insured to protect their business and add to their legitimacy.
  2. How long have you been in business? – Many locksmiths train in an apprentice-like situation, so even if a locksmith isn’t licensed, length of experience will give you a better idea whether they are a scammer or not.
  3. How do you charge? – It’s not uncommon for locksmiths to work on a bit of a sliding scale, but you shouldn’t expect to be quoted a price then charged double or triple that original amount. Generally, locksmiths will charge a flat service fee with additional expense for replacement parts and, sometimes a fee for late-night service. Keep in mind that a legitimate locksmith will be upfront about their charging plan and warn you of any alterations before they begin work.

Look For In-Person Signs

Once a locksmith shows up to your car to provide service, you’ll want to keep an eye out for a few different things. First, if they are licensed, bonded, and/or insured, ask to see proof. A legitimate locksmith will have all that paperwork handy and be willing to show you—anyone who refuses to show their credentials is one to be wary of. In addition to paperwork, look for signals that they have actually put effort into their business. Their vehicle will likely have some sort of logo or branding on the sides. Make sure their vehicle branding matches what you found online as a way to gauge their legitimacy. You can also look for a shirt, hat, jacket, and so on that have company branded insignias. If they don’t have any branding, you may want to ask a few more questions before you allow them to start working on your car. And, as always, remember that you do not have to let someone work on your home or car just because you called them. If the technician arrives and they quote you a much higher price, you are well within your rights as a paying customer to tell them no and deny service entirely. If you have a technician tell you the $40 original quote will now be $200, that drastic of a jump in price is a red flag. Don’t let them begin work and call a different service.

When you’re locked out, your safety is paramount. Keep the above tips in mind to stay safe the next time you need to call an auto locksmith so you can stay safe and improve your odds to avoid getting scammed. For quick, professional assistance in Pand the greater Philadelphia area, contact Top Notch Locksmith today!