In recent years, increasing cases of locksmith scams have been reported, especially in Sydney and other parts of Australia. It is, therefore, imperative that you know how to identify and avoid such scams.
Being careless and falling victim to these scammers can cost you in excess of hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
As reported by the Master Locksmith Association of Australia and other sources, the scam targets the victim’s immediate need for emergency locksmith services.
Such as when your are locked out of your property due to your keys being locked inside, misplaced or stolen. In such cases you are in a rush and desperate for a fast, cheap solution.
How the Locksmith Scam Works
This scam in itself is quite elaborate and starts from proper positioning online.
1. They Are Easily Found
The scammer creates a Google Maps listing and website with prominent advertising to appear as a legitimate locksmith company.
When the victim who is in a state of emergency searches online for a legitimate locksmith in the area, the website pops up.
One thing to note is that many of these websites have a .com domain and not a .com.au domain. Either way, the website is optimized for local relevance, using features such as local address, local phone numbers, and local copy. This leads the victim to believe that they can get a rapid response from a supposedly local company.
2. They Offer Seemingly Low Prices
The key selling point of these locksmith scam websites is the low price that is advertised within the search engine results and on the website itself.
Upon calling the local number provided by the website, the customer may be directed to a foreign call centre that promises to send a locksmith. However a local contact may also answer the phone.
3. You Get Unskilled, Unlicensed Workers
The person who comes out to provide the locksmith service is usually an unskilled, unlicensed and uninsured individual. Also they arrive in an unbranded vehicle and will not provide any form of identification.
The individual will then try to open the door but in most cases will eventually destroy the lock and then replace it with a new low-quality lock.
4. Your Final Bill is HUGE
At this point they charge you as the consumer a cost that is hugely overpriced. Cases have been heard of charges amounting to hundreds and thousands of dollars. All the while they are damaging and replacing high quality locks with inferior products.
These unskilled locksmith scammers demand payments and often deliver illegal and unbranded invoices to their customers. Reports have also been received of threats and other intimidating behaviours to ensure that the customer pays.
How to Avoid These Scams
Now that you know these locksmith scams exist, the next step is learning how to protect yourself.
To avoid falling victim, here are a few things you can do.
Create a Shortlist
Start by running a search for a reputable locksmith company before you actually need one and create a shortlist.
As we said earlier, the entire premise of this locksmith scam relies on the victim being in a state of emergency, which forces them to make spur of the moment (often bad) decisions.
However, if they had the time to scrutinize the locksmith’s website, they may have easily discovered that they were a scam.
Luckily for you, you have now found a reliable, trustworthy and professional locksmith who services the entire Sydney area.
Refine Your List
Visit the Master Locksmith Association of Australia’s (MLAA) website to complete a search for accredited and insured locksmiths in your area. This allows you to filter out suspicious locksmiths and leave you with authentic ones.
Ask About Total Cost
Before anyone is sent out or starts work on your property ask about the total cost of the service.
The main selling point of this locksmith scam is the low callout fee. However it is vital you understand this can have nothing to do with the final bill. The total cost is the most important price you need to be concerned about.
This point goes for all Tradies and workers, not just locksmiths. Unfortunately this low callout fee scam occurs in other industries too.
Ask For Identification
You should also refuse service from any locksmiths who arrive without a branded vehicle or fail to provide valid form of identification.
Rest assured, here at Fusion Locksmiths, every one of our qualified, skilled and professional locksmiths will arrive in a branded vehicle with valid identification.
Protect Yourself & Others From Locksmith Scammers
Now that you know about these locksmith scams you need to spread the word. Tell your friends, family and loved ones. Only through awareness will these scammers lose their advantage.
As we mentioned these businesses operate on the fact that people are unaware of the scam and are desperate. If you see a locksmith offering a low callout fee, at a cost that seems to good to be true, it probably is.
No locksmith is going to drive all the way across town just for $15. If they are offering such a low call out fee you know they will add extra costs onto the final bill to ensure they are covered for their time.
Want More Details?
To learn more about this locksmith scam check out this TED talk
As a summary, the speaker talks about how he was easily able to get a fake business registered on Google and show up in Google Maps.
He also talks in depth about how there are thousands of fake locksmith businesses on Google which is adding to this epidemic. And even though the video is from 2015, majority of the same practices and issues exist today.
If you have a spare 20 mins you should really check it out.
Stay Safe & Secure
You deserve to feel safe and secure in your home. Be aware that the are scammers everywhere and just be careful.
Following the above steps will significantly reduce your risk of you getting scammed by these fake locksmiths. Hopefully you will never have to deal with becoming a victim of these locksmith scammers.
However, should you suspect that you have been scammed, visit the Master locksmith Association of Australia’s “report a scam” page and provide them with as much information as you can.