7 Tips to Avoid Locksmith Scams

Leave a Comment - 66


Amir Halfon

Subject: I agree with almost

I agree with almost everything that was said above but few things.
As far as drilling a lock- not just high secure need to be drilled to open, not often but there will be sometimes scenarios you will need to drill the lock, i agree that skilled locksmith will open almost every door but as u say it ur self ALMOST not all which mean in rare cases that will be the solution, drilling must be absolutely last tesort after exhusting all other option


Subject: locksmith

Grew up in a town so small everyone knew who did what, locks, electrical, plumbing , roofs. So when I moved to the city 12 years ago, I walked across the street to an apartment complex to get a locksmith recommidation. Used them 3 times. Will quote the price and never charge additional, show name tag, license and vehicle signage. No complaints.


Subject: Locks

Its easy to replace locks yourself, deadbolts are the best locks the doors with the push bars and key can be opened with vise lock plyers and a screwdriver with a bent tip fast as anyone with a key.


Subject: Locksmith

I have been in this industry over 30 years. Driving a marked and signed vehicle in our industry is not always a smart decision. I have had one stolen and 3 broken into for the tools and equipment. I will never place signs on another.
Also, a simple question from the customer should be asked and phrased correctly - "What is the total cost going to be when completed?"
Insurance is available to be faxed or emailed upon request - Not from me, but from the company who issued the insurance. There is also a copy of it in my truck.
Prices change......, If you are locked out of your home or business and call for emergency service - be advised, If you say it is a cheap lock (Kwickset, EZ-Set, Weslock, etcetera among a few), If it is not, the price changes. An example is to pick open a Kwickset lock and service call $45.00 (Normal Hours). When I arrive, it is a Medeco. You just went from a $20 dead bolt to a $200.00 dead bolt. The Medeco offers pick resistance, key control and can not be bypassed by normal methods used by trunk slammer locksmith companies.
ALOA and Savta both look good on a business card. But employees are generally not members, the owner is. I no longer belong to either.
When I quote a price and you say someone else is cheaper, why are you still calling around? If you were calling for pizza, do you use another companies prices? A common practice for trunk slammer locksmiths is to call reputable companies and check prices. They then do a bait and switch with callers. Give a common price and change it when they arrive with extras. ASK FOR A TOTAL PRICE -include a worst case scenario. Also, give as much accurate information as possible when asked. We will ask you specific questions about the locks and keys. If I ask you what does it say on the lock or key, this is to give you an accurate price before heading to you. We don't like to haggle or negotiate after the work is done.
As a side note, when working and you ask me to duplicate any keys, give me only the keys you want duplicated. Not your entire key ring. I do not need your house key, car key, office key and so on. This is for your protection.
I have been scammed by more customers with bad checks - than I know of customers who have been scammed by bad locksmiths.

Gerry Hintlian

Subject: response

In California we have a law against carrying Freon in your car unless you are a licensed mechanic. So many cars have plastic dashboards and Freon can melt and destroy the dashboard, allowing someone to steal the radio. I am sure we have laws against having lock-picking tools and not being licensed. At least I sure hope so!!! I also believe you may NOT carry a bolt cutter in your car. The police figure you are just looking for trouble.!!!


Subject: lock picking tools in California

Laws vary by state, but in CA it is legal for anyone to own and carry lock picking tools. Possession becomes a misdemeanor only if one possesses them in a place one is not otherwise authorized to be.

A couple times I've saved locksmith expenses when a file cabinet had been locked accidentally, or a padlock key lost.


Subject: Phony companies are the

Phony companies are the reason I have 4 sets of keys for my house, in the possession of trusted family/friends. If I can't get into my house I call them.


Subject: 'Be wary of locksmith

'Be wary of locksmith companies that answer calls with generic phrases like “locksmith services,” rather than a specific name. '

I know lawyers and doctors, who do the same.

However, I have always thought it was because they use a generic answering service outside of normal business hours. Nothing really sinister.


Subject: Shop around

My girlfriend lost her car keys, and in the panic that often accompanies something like that, called a locksmith at 9:00 at night who proceeded to upcharge and upcharge. Finally he got threatening toward her if she didn't pay $300 in cash rather than the credit card agreed on the phone.

My advice, which I am sure she will heed next time, is if it is not urgent (it was not) to call the dealer first to find out their price, and have AAA tow you there. I had a new car key made in under an hour for $90 when the same thing happened to me. No muss, no fuss. And no crooked scam artist coming to extort you.

David Leeds

Subject: Sorry, being an ALOA member

Sorry, being an ALOA member by ITSELF is not much of a guarantee of anything, in my opinion. Nothing wrong with ALOA (except their dues are pricey), mind you.


Subject: Missed one!

I am a locksmith. When people call that they are locked out of their car, and I tell them we charge $55, some will tell me that "another locksmith" said they charge $30 to open a car. I advise them to go with that locksmith only if they properly answer a few questions: Does this $30 cover unlocking the car, or getting there and unlocking the car? How much is the service call? Is there a "tool usage," "paperwork," "fuel surcharge," or other unmentioned fee? In short, how much will the whole experience cost, as opposed to just the unlocking? Far too many people have told me they were quoted some ridiculously low price only to discover afterwards that all the "add-on" costs ran the bill up to $150!


Subject: I got taken

Thought I was calling the reliable locksmith downtown; sadly no. A great big man dressed in black came and told me $240 cash or $285 credit. Drilled the lock. I tried the new keys and they worked. Went out next morning, locked the door and for some reason pushed on the door and it opened. Tried again; same thing. I used the deadbolt. He could have come back the next day, pushed the door open, and cleaned me out. Oh, by the way, he also used a ficticious address. The reliable locksmith came and fixed everything and his phone number is in my contacts.


Subject: locksmith

I say always keep an extra key hidden outside,if that fails just break/drill your own door knob/deadbolt and replace it with a new one because it will be cheaper and faster than hiring someone to come out and open it for you ,remember the only purpose of the door needing a "key" to open is so you know if someone broke in , it's you're the only one who needs a key to open your own door LOL


Subject: OK.....how ya gonna get to

OK.....how ya gonna get to your drill???????????

David A. Lane

Subject: Virginia

In Virginia, you must be "certified" to be a locksmith and possession of locksmith tools without that certification is prema facia evidence that you intend to commit a crime.

In short, make sure you know who your local locksmiths are before you need them.


Subject: Sounds to me like Virginia

Sounds to me like Virginia has suspended habeus corpus. Possession of tools is not a crime. A crime would be not obtaining permission from the locks owner prior to picking the lock. Then and ONLY then the locks owner has jurisprudence to file charges. There is no such thing as victim less crime. Which is the suggestion of possession being "criminal".


Subject: Phony Locksmiths can be avoided

Too many people wait until an emergency to know what locksmith to call. A few minutes of research will give you the names of reliable ones for future reference.

Here's what we did... we asked neighbors and friends for names of locksmith's they've used, and we checked Angie's List for ratings and comments. We found out how long they've been in business and if they were bonded/insured. Armed with this information, we chose a local locksmith that's been in business nearby for over 15 years. We've now used them 3 times, once in an emergency lock out situation, twice for re-keying. All 3 times we got estimates over the phone first and the technician showed up on schedule, the work done was on price and properly. Yes we paid a little more than a "cheap" locksmith advertised in a flyer, but what is peace of mind worth? Security is priceless.

Dean Evans, CRL

Subject: Comments

Some personal comments on the above numerical list:

1. I sometimes answer my phone differently if the number is not a local area code only because of the proliferation of spam telemarketers. But I agree, if you are ever hassled about the business name or where they are located, hang up.

2. Pennsylvania and many states might not have locksmith licenses, but many have contractor registrations, as someone else mentioned. Also, and this is extremely important: all businesses still need to be registered with their own departments of state. I also don't know any state where locksmiths don't need sales tax certificates.

I carry all of these documents with me. They are a matter of public record and not confidential.

3. ALWAYS! No ifs ands or buts!!

4. There is no reason a locksmith can't provide these costs to you on the phone!

5. Agreed!

6. On signage. Many bogus locksmiths use rental vehicles and magnetic signs. If a locksmith vehicle looks like it could double for an exterminator or pizza delivery car, walk away. Legit locksmiths adhere to a code of ethics and one of them is having a proper, professional vehicle, but not a trunk slammer. But as a locksmith, I will use an unmarked vehicle at a customers request (they might have nosey neighbors) or when I perform services during forced evictions.

7. I carry bypass tools for some locks, but I sometimes suck at lock picking - it's one thing I always had trouble with. I do drill locks for the sake of time. I'm not going to waste my customer's time or mine. BUT!! I never, ever, ever charge a customer to replace lock cylinders I drill out. Most of these cylinders cost a couple dollars at most and it is a cost of doing business. Bogus locksmiths drill locks out and charge hundreds of dollars for cheap replacement locks. Very rarely does a lock itself need to be replaced, just the core/cylinder.

I'm going to add another item not discussed. During emergency services, especially for women and especially in parking lots. Never, never, never, never let any locksmith ever, ever, ever, ever block your vehicle -your escape route - during service. This is a common tactic among bogus locksmiths to threaten and intimidate those they intend to rip off. If you EVER feel uneasy or concerned, leave your vehicle, find a very public area and call the police right away.

On a side note, I had the privilege to offer my services as an expert witness against a bogus locksmith that bilked gobs of money from desperate and unsuspecting customers. I was amazed at the never ending list of tactics used to steal and cheat.

Retired chief

Subject: Bad locksmiths

I owe my training to the Navy. I worked as part time self employed locksmith. I always quoted a price and stuck to it no matter what cost me in time or materials. If a job seem to be beyond my capabilities I would recommend one of several professional locksmiths who had the training and tools and were honest to a fault. I have been called by friends who had a so called cheap locksmith did a poor job.


Subject: Locksmith

Article seems to be written without insight.

A lot of locksmiths do not mark their vehicles, as it makes the vehicle a more desirable one to break into; in addition to the added costs associated with marking the vehicle.

ALOA is often dropped by locksmiths after a few years, it is expensive to maintain with little offered in return. There is a lot of competition in the business, thus dropping ALOA is just one of many cost savings choices.

BBB means nothing to me as well. Between the cost of joining the BBB, and the number of A+ rated business that rip people off, I place little value in their rankings.

Fees vary with business decisions. Some opt to cover costs up front with higher trip charges, others opt for low or no trip charges and add it into the cost of billed services.

Estimates are problematic without being on site, as most customers would not know what to look at to assure a valid assessment is made. It is not uncommon to have customers say they have 2 doors and on site you see they have 4 doors as they counted doorways rather than front door, side door and the security doors. In addition they may have double cylinder locks, obsolete locks, locks that are damaged or significantly worn, amoung other various factors. Some locksmiths will have a replace vs. repair to avoid this that may cost you more than one who looks to repair first. Often the plug can be replaced instead of the entire lock, making the drilling a fast an practice option.

Though I favor repair over replace, the drill and replace is still frequently required, based on many factors such as condition of the lock. A number of locksmiths go directly to drilling, as it can be faster and cheaper than defeating a lock such a picking; cost less for customer and more profitable for locksmith. Picking locks is more important if there is a high value lock due to price or sentimental value of the lock or what the lock is part of. Standard house door knobs may be more practical to drill and replace, rather than pay for time to pick a lock that is already marginal from exposure and use.

The priority should be in finding a locksmith you trust, after all you are offering them access to your security. Just like a doctor that holds your health in their hands, you should assure you are comfortable with and trust them. Recommendations are a good place to start, even better if it is from people you know and trust.


Subject: Your "7 Rules"

AMEN to the comments above. ALOA membership means nothing except for dues to an organization which can do
nothing to pay you back. And the BBB is notorious for charging money annually for alleged respectability.

I always answer my phone with, "Hello, this is Mike, can I help you?" because my phone is also for personal use.
And I'll never put signage on my van (just like MANY of my locksmith buddies) because we don't want our thousands
of dollars worth of tools stolen.

You guys should have talked to a few more locksmiths before publishing your supposed rules.

Locksmith Bob

Subject: If a locksmith does not

If a locksmith does not provide any insurance information, run away!!

A standard contractor policy should have $1 million in liability.

People have been killed by improperly installed locks and have had property damaged by bad locksmiths.

Injury and losses by bad locksmiths is not your fault, nor should one penny come out of YOUR pocket or YOUR insurance company's pocket.

If a locksmith does not have insurance that means they do not take ANY responsibility for ANY losses suffered by you!

Legitimate and honest locksmiths have insurance and keep this info on hand if and when customers ask!!


Subject: red flags

I see red flags, when a potential customer starts out by asking about insurance. I am a licensed and bondedable contractor, who is well insured. I fully guarantee my workmanship, and warrantee my materials. The only customers who have ever sued me. Were the few who asked about, and wanted to review my coverage up front (I won all 7 times). Where I am at you can not obtain a license, with out proper insurance. So that is all I will show now as proof of insurance. And since putting this practice into place. I have not been sued again.


Subject: Fakes

Great article, being a locksmith for 30 years myself. It's unfortunate that the industry has been taken over by these cons. Yes they are everywhere and deception is their bag to the max. They advertise a price & jack it up by many times once on the job. Say no to them ! Most are unexperienced & destroy the door lock to add additional charges. They give the industry a bad representation.


Subject: LOCKS

Beware locksmiths on the internet selling hardware. I wanted a certain lock and handle and a mail order company in New York could deliver at a fair price. They made their money up and more with their shipping and "handling" charges, which were more than the hardware! My fault for not getting a firm quote from them for the bottom line.

craig fortmann

Subject: I am a locksmith owner in

I am a locksmith owner in Minnesota. I am not required to have ins. or a lic.
and I don't belong to ALOA. and I don't have any markings on my van. all of which costs a lot of money. to keep my expenses down I have my business in my home. I've been in business for 30 years. so not all of your warning signs
are an indication of a scam. just thought I would throw this out there.

Locksmith Bob

Subject: Craig...

I just went to your state's L&I website. I did not see anything about locksmith licensing, but your state - since last year - does have contractor registration requirements.

I didn't go through the whole site, but if your state is like mine, which has the same contractor registration, you are required under the guidelines (aka state law) to register AND have insurance.

The whole reason for insurance and registration is that if you do bilk a customer (I'm not saying you ever would) the state attorney wants to know how to hunt you down and prosecute you. And they want to be sure the customer can sue you as well.


Subject: locksmith article

Your comments are exactly what I was thinking. You do need to be wary, and there are many perfectly legitimate locksmiths who operate just as you described above.
We have a local locksmith who works it on the side. He's a highway patrolman, but I would trust him thoroughly even if he weren't a patrolman. But then, I know him as a person, which might not be so in a larger city.

Ray Riley

Subject: Craig Fortmann

As a consumer it seems that a membership fee to ALOA and a detachable sign for your vehicle would be a small price to pay for a possible increase in business.


Subject: Locksmith

You are probably a fine locksmith, but the point is that you are giving access to the basic security of your home to a stranger, so it is almost negligent not to require a license or some sort of security clearance for such a craftsman, agreed? You should encourage this in your state, no criminals should be allowed to be locksmiths.

Dave Leeds

Subject: Scammers and Trunk-slammers

I have been a locksmith for over 30 years. I gave it up a few years ago because it was so hard to make a living at. First, drilling locks is sometimes needed because not all locks are easy to pick (and sometimes they jam internally). However, most locks can be drilled without being ruined and needing replacement. That should NOT be the first thing tried with most locks.

If you want to find a reputable locksmith, do the same thing you would with any kind of contractor-ask friends and family who THEY like.

John Hardy

Subject: Scammers

I agree with your statement that sometimes cylinders need to be drilling after attempting to pick the cylinder does not work. How do re use a lock after drilling? I been a locksmith for over 30 year and after a cylinder has been drilled it needs to be replace to retain the integrity of the lock. As far as getting a reputable Locksmith you should visit your local Locksmith location and get a business card before you need there services.

Dutchess Locksmith Service, Poughkeepsie, NY

Subject: Thank you for the informative article

We have heard horror stories from customers who have had a problem, looked on the internet, called one of the scammers, and, of course, got ripped off. We are not a member of ALOA, but neither is the oldest and most prestigious locksmith in our city. Always ask the price before ordering service. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


Subject: Locksmith Scams and how to avoid them

First of all the best defense against phony locksmiths is not being blinded by greed.
People that think that a locksmith will come out to do a lock installation, emergency service,
re-keying for $15.00 are looking for trouble.

If you go to your local home improvement store you can see that the average residential locks worth putting on your door is starting around $35.00 installation for residential service is about $65.00 plus another $25.00 $35.00.

Mind you, here at this level, you are expected to pay for professional quality service.
…Job done right, at the first time with some sort of guarantee.
Running a legitimate locksmith business with high end customer service is time consuming requires dedication of thousands of dollars that is cost of doing business.

Forget about “reviews” they are laughable at best. They are all written by the scammers themselves.
They all focus on how” fast they respond” . You read these so called reviews and they seem like were written by one person.
Locksmith scammers don’t carry insurance of any type, no license, and no skills of anything at all, zero personality and you will not see them again once you got ripped off.
Just remember you got what you paid for.

Judy Lugar

Subject: Phony Locksmiths

Thank you for posting the "Phony Locksmith" information!

Sayreville Resident


Thanks for the list - too bad I didnt have internet access when I got locked out yesterday! Got a name from yellow pages. I've filed a complaint with BBB.



This happened to me, after I read good reviews of a locksmith on other sites. Now I am just in a mess and have to deal with another headache. A complaint to the BBB and local office of consumer affairs have been sent.

Kenneth W Briggs CRL


I would also like to point out to people is look for the ALOA sign (Associated Locksmiths of America International) When you have a locksmith that has the designations from ALOA, your getting a reputable locksmith.


Subject: I am a locksmith in Mass. I

I am a locksmith in Mass. I have encountered these guys working on my customer doors twice now....Both times I was threatened while calling the police.

Find a locksmith before you need one. To b honest there are a lot of long time locksmiths that are not ALOA members. I am one of them. ALOA management was purged recently when the were allowing phoney and scammer locksmiths to join....Kinds of like letting the fox into the hen house..

France McTyre


This is a very goof article and needs to be updated. Run Local Locksmith is the largest scam rouge locksmith out there. They have now invaded all of the aUnited States.Every State, EVERY County

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.