We’ve pretty much all locked ourselves out at one point or another. Maybe you dropped your keys in the trunk while grabbing the groceries or your toddler decided to lock you out of the house because turning the deadbolt is fun. Whatever the case, these sorts of accidents happen. Your local locksmith is there to help get you back into your home or your car quickly. Unfortunately, there have been so many instances where a locksmith will quote one price then demand a higher amount when they arrive and see the “complex lock” on your door or announce that your car is “complicated to get into safely,” so it will be an additional fee. That price you were quoted over the phone has just tripled!

No one wants this to happen to them, but it can be hard to sort out whether a locksmith found online is legitimate or a scam. Locksmithing is, in fact, one of the most commonly scammed professions out there. So, if you’ve been locked out of your car, don’t end your accidental move with an even worse experience! Fortunately, there are steps you can take before ever placing a call and additional things to double check once a technician arrives. Learn how to find professional, trained auto locksmith services rather than scams.

Scammers’ Methods

Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to find most locksmith tools online, and it’s not necessarily unlawful to do so. For example, you could easily go to an online shopping site and buy a slim jim or a lock picking kit (though the legality of this one varies from state to state). In fact, it’s often perfectly legal to own locksmith tools, as long as you don’t have the intention to use them for unlawful purposes. How else would apprentice locksmiths learn what they need to know if they can’t practice? Sadly, this also means that those interested in quick and easy money often choose locksmithing as their means because they can acquire the tools pretty easily. More often than not, scammers will pose as legitimate locksmiths, to the point that it’s difficult to tell them from the legitimate businesses. They will generally run a standard bait-and-switch, in which they will quote a low but reasonable-sounding price over the phone, then claim some sort of complication for which they need to charge an exorbitant rate.

Information and the Internet

These days, when something goes wrong or you have a question, it’s ridiculously easy to pull out your smartphone and run a quick online search to get the information you need. Unfortunately, it’s also really easy to create a website that looks professional and put contact information out there on the internet for all to see. Before the internet, scammers would use a 1-800 number to connect people with a false locksmith. Now, it’s unfortunately even easier to get that contact information to potential customers. So, when you need an auto locksmith, the first hurdle is choosing an option from all the listings that pop up. A good guideline here isn’t necessarily to judge based on how professional a website looks. Instead, look to reputable review sites like those hosted by Google or the Better Business Bureau. People are pretty good about getting the word out there when they experience poor service, but always take it with a grain of salt.

The other option to look for when searching for an auto locksmith online is to see those listed on locksmith accreditation sites like the Associated Locksmiths of America (who host findalocksmith.com) and provide lists of credentialed locksmiths across the country. However, as a side note: generally , locksmith has to request to be listed on those sites or be a member of that locksmith association. Not being listed on a locksmith association’s site doesn’t always mean it’s a scam; it could mean they are a member with a different organization. You can cross-reference potential locksmith services against their online presence on sites like Google+ or Facebook as well. It may take a bit longer to jump back and forth between website and social media platforms, but that additional time will help give you more peace of mind and minimize the risk that you’re calling a scam, rather than a legitimate service.

There are even more ways to protect yourself from scammers. Stay tuned to part 2. For trustworthy auto locksmith services in Philadelphia and the greater Philadelphia area, contact Top Notch Locksmith today!