Our industry association, the ALOA Security Professionals Association, Inc. or simply ALOA, created a 10-point “locksmith scam check-list” to help detect if a company is engaging in scammer tactics. While some of the items on the list are legal and innocuous by themselves, such as a locksmith operating out of an unmarked service vehicle, if several are used together it may be an indication that you are dealing with a locksmith scammers.

Here is ALOA’s locksmith scam check-list in it’s entirety:

Not Familiar with Your Area . To ensure that the company is local, make sure that they are familiar with your area of town .

“Locksmith Service.” Unscrupulous individuals often operate under many business names/aliases. Thus, they must answer the phone with a generic phrase like, “locksmith service.” If the call is answered this way, ask, “What is the legal name of your business.”

ALOA Logo. Does the Yellow Pages ad contain a logo that makes them appear to belong to ALOA? While many locksmiths do belong to the Association, some unscrupulous individuals trick the consumer by falsely using the ALOA logo. You can always check to see if in fact these businesses are members by calling ALOA, (800) 532-2562 or www.findalocksmith.com .

Unclear Business Name. Look closely at the ad(s). Is the specific name of the business clearly identified? Does it appear that the dealer actually operates under several names? If a Web address is listed, does the name on the Web site match the name on the ad?

“Under Same Ownership” This confusing statement, often found in small print at the bottom of a full-page ad in phone directories, give consumers a sense that the firm has been in business for awhile. The statement itself may be a warning sign that the company operates under several aliases. Also, the ad sometimes lists association memberships for organizations that do not exist, (i.e. American Locksmith Association).

Service Vehicle. Some legitimate locksmiths will work out of a car or unmarked van for quick jobs, but most will arrive in a service vehicle – a van or truck that is clearly marked.

Identity. A legitimate locksmith should ask for identity and some form of proof that you have the authority to allow the unlocking to be done. You have the right to ask for the locksmith’s identification as well. Does he have a business card? Does he have an invoice or bill with the company name printed on it? Does it match the name on the service vehicle?

Estimate. Find out what the work will cost before you authorize it. Never sign a blank form authorizing work.

Invoice. Insist on an itemized invoice. You can’t dispute a charge without proof of how much you paid and what the payment was for.

Refuse. If you are not comfortable with the service provider, you can, and should, refuse to work with the locksmith.

Additional Advice

A majority of people believe that high prices qualifies as being scammed but, in reality, that isn’t always the case. Higher prices, or rates, are both normal and reasonable for locksmith services, such as lockouts, when they are utilized during non-business hours, such as on weekends or late at night. Pricing is also dependent on a number of other additional factors, such as the type of job and the location of the job. The best, and perhaps only, way to know if what you were charged was within the norm of your area is to contact reputable locksmiths in your area and ask their rates for the same job on the same day and at the same time. If what you paid was far removed, there is a very good chance you were scammed.