How to Spot a Car Locksmith Scammer
Having a good car locksmith on dial is essential when you've accidentally locked yourself out of the car and are stranded in the 100-plus-degree Arizona summer. Yet most people don't just have a car locksmith on speed dial. Most people wait until they have such an emergency situation to Google a locksmith nearby and then call whoever pops up first.
The trouble with that is you leave yourself open to all types of scammers and thieves. Any person can slap together a website or a Facebook page and start offering locksmith services. The unscrupulous among them will quote you some outrageously low price for the service and then inflate it as much as 10 times after they arrive. You've already waited and feel like you don't have any other options, so you just hand over the money.
In some cases, the unethical "locksmith" may wait until removing the lock (if you have to get it replaced) to inflate the prices and may then hold your credit card hostage if you refuse to pay. He may even threaten to call the police.
Most of these scoundrels are not licensed locksmiths, which means that they haven't undergone the necessary criminal background checks, as well. You could be handing over your keys to someone who will make a copy and come back later to rob you.
Here are a few ways to spot a car locksmith scammer and to protect yourself:
No Written Estimate
A scammer will likely quote you an unbelievably low price, such as $10 or $20. Yet, as mentioned, they will inflate it later. Scammers will not offer you a written estimate, so they are not obligated to honor those prices.
Always ask for a written estimate before the work begins, and never turn over your cash or credit card until you are happy with the price. Beware of any locksmiths who insist they can only accept cash.
No License, Certification or Professional Affiliations
Locksmiths are not required to be licensed in Arizona, though many of the more professional locksmiths get licensed anyway. Those who are not licensed should still have professional certifications and affiliations to show that they are legitimate business men who are committed to their profession. A lack of any licensure, certification or affiliation should send up a red flag.