Tips for Avoiding Locksmith Scams
Unlike other states, Minnesota doesn't regulate locksmiths. But the attorney general and the Better Business Bureau do offer these tips:
Finding a Locksmith
- Find a company before you need it. Get recommendations from friends and family and then save the number in your phone in case of emergency.
- Skip Google and instead choose an accredited locksmith in good standing with the BBB. A list can be found on its website (www.bbb.org) or iPhone App.
- You can also check with the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA), an organization that abides by a code of ethics and insists on certain training standards requirements (www.mnaloa.org).
- Pick a shop with a storefront. Someone who has an actual storefront is easier to track down should there be a problem.
- Avoid locksmiths with 800 numbers. Chances are good the company is based in another state.
- Call and compare several different locksmiths before deciding whose service you will use.
- Ask the person answering the phone for the actual address of the locksmith to ensure reliability. Be wary if they simply answer "locksmith" and refuse to give a full name of the company.
- Have an estimate emailed to you before any work begins. Be wary of any locksmith who says it cannot provide an estimate until after the vehicle is inspected.
- In the estimate, the locksmith should be able to give an exact quote based on the year, make and model of your vehicle.
- The estimate should include a total cost for all work, additional fees and replacement parts.
- Always ask the locksmiths for a worst case scenario, meaning before you ask them to come out, ask them what their highest possible price might be, given your situation.
- Read the fine print. Be sure to read any contract thoroughly before signing. Check for additional fees that weren't discussed and understand the terms of any guarantees. Ask what the company will do should the locksmith damage your property and make sure that is in writing as well.
- Confirm that the locksmith is insured to cover damage that may result from the repair.
- Never just sign a blank work authorization form.
On the Scene
- Ask for an ID, a business card, and a license when the locksmith arrives. Locksmiths are required to carry a copy of their licenses.
- Be wary if you're told the lock has to be drilled and replaced. A skilled and reputable locksmith should have the training necessary to unlock any door.
- After the service is finished, be sure to get an itemized receipt that includes the price of the service call, labor, and mileage
- Don't pay cash. Even mobile locksmiths should be able to accept credit cards or checks. Scammers will often insist that the machine is broken or give another excuse for needing cash. Don't fall for it.