Hundreds, maybe thousands, of locksmith scam artists are taking advantage of emergencies to rip off home and auto owners across the United States. Some professional locksmiths even believe the widespread fraud is part of an organized crime operation.
According to the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which published its annual Top 10 list of consumer complaints this past August, locksmith fraud is one of the fastest growing scams in the nation.
The basic structure of a locksmith scam is simple.
You're locked out of your car or your home or you urgently need to change the locks on your property for any of a number of reasons -- like securing it against previous occupants, or even a divorced spouse.
You look up a listing online or in the phone book and call up the supposed locksmith who subsequently grossly overcharges you for the service. $1,500 or so is not uncommon for a service that generally should cost around $150.
"Often unlicensed locksmiths use the Internet to advertise very low prices," says the CFA. "Typically, they disassemble the locks and then demand more than the amount they originally quoted to finish the jobs. Faced with the alarming prospect of not having working locks, consumers are forced to capitulate."
If the victim refuses to pay, the phony locksmith will often use bullying tactics, threaten to call the police, or refuse to return a credit card that the customer may have handed over at the outset.
Sometimes, too, bogus locksmiths can damage your property in the process of doing a botched job, costing even more to put it right. While this is an American problem it has spread to Canada as well
I spoke to a locksmith recently and found out how you can spot a bogus locksmith.
1. look up the company. If they advertise on Kijiji but do not have a legitimate website, they are probably a fly by night operation. They also need to have a registered address as their place of business.
2. Look at their trucks. If they are unmarked this means trouble.
3. look up the telephone number. If it’s a cellphone or not registered anywhere this can be a red flag.
4 Ask to see their provincial license. As their occupation is breaking into homes and cars, believe me,
The province wants to know who they are and that they are honest people. They should have a licence on their person and in their vehicle.
5. Ask how much the job should cost.
In this day and age, it’s easy to get ripped off. Take precautions and stay safe.
for more information on homes and financing, contact David at http://davidcooke.ca