Let’s start off by saying that most locksmiths are honorable people, licensed and bonded, and not at all likely to rip you off. However, there have been scams arising lately, perpetrated by unlicensed, unqualified, bogus technicians who might charge you up to ten times the normal rate to get you into your car or house if you lock yourself out.
Now, how are you going to identify these scammers? It’s actually pretty easy. Start from the premise that locksmith prices in general should be around a hundred dollars.
The Basic Locksmith Scam
Here’s the scenario – you are locked out of your home or your car, or you have to change your locks suddenly, perhaps because you have evicted people, or your divorced spouse is harassing you. So, what you do, is you look in the Yellow Pages, or you pull up a listing online to find a locksmith.
The locksmith tells you that the service is going to cost a lot of money – maybe even over a thousand dollars. As if. A good locksmith can get you into your home or your house, or change your locks for one tenth of the price you’re being quoted, or less.
It’s a scam, pure and simple, and you’re not likely dealing with a licensed, bonded locksmith. These guys will do what they have to do to capture you, though, and much of the time it’s simply thanks to a “first call” or “first click” thing. They come up in the Yellow pages as AAAAAAAA+++++++++ Locksmiths, or something like that, and because they’re the first ones you see, they’re the first ones you phone. Or online, they work like crazy to make sure they’re the first ones that come up on a Google search. You’re thinking, “Hey, I found them on Google, so they must be reliable.” Not necessarily.
So, now that you’ve got them at your location, and you’ve agreed to their exorbitant locksmith prices because you didn’t know any better, you’ve been ripped off.
If You Know You’ve Been Ripped Off…
Sometimes, you call these scammers, and you realize once they hand you the bill that they’re not entirely above board. At that point, they might threaten to call the police, or refuse to give you back the credit card that you handed them in good faith. Sometimes, too, they might deliberately damage your property.
Don’t Locksmiths Have to Be Licensed?
No. Not every state requires licensing, and that makes you even more vulnerable to being ripped off.
Gonna Have to Drill That Lock!
This is another scam that unscrupulous, so-called locksmiths will use with prices to jack them up. The reality is that a lock hardly ever has to be drilled – a good locksmith can get you into your home or car without ever needing to drill a lock. With a car, they simply ease the door open a bit, and then use a device that trips the door lock. With your house, usually they can pick the lock.
So, if you need a locksmith in Indianapolis area, and you don’t want to fall victim to a scammer, how can you be sure that you’re getting the real thing?
- Well, first of all, don’t go with the ads in the Yellow Pages. An ad can look really good, but not be placed by a locksmith whose price is honest and reasonable. The same thing goes for the ads that you get on Google.
- Before you even think about contacting a locksmith company, check them out. Find out if they’re accredited with ALOA (although we have to say, as a caveat, that some reputable locksmiths are not ALOA members).
- Phone them, and find out where they are based. Ask if they are licensed. Ask for the registered name of the business, and Google it. If anything looks off, bail.
- Ask for an estimate. If they give you a ridiculously low price, it’s probably a scam. If it’s a ridiculously high price, it’s definitely a scam.
- Inform the dispatcher that you will expect to be able to see the technician’s certification and identification before proceeding with the work, and that you will also want a written estimate.
- When the technician arrives at your location, check out the vehicle. Note the license plate number. And if they show up in a non-commercial vehicle, suspect a scam.
- Again, on the drilling, if the technician tells you that the lock has to be drilled, ask why, and don’t accept any explanation that does not fully satisfy you.
- Never give your credit card or offer cash until you are completely happy with the job. Oh, and if they insist on a credit card and won’t accept cash, that’s another sign that you might be about to be scammed.
- If anyone threatens you, call the police immediately.
Most locksmiths in Indianapolis are going to be professional, reliable, and legitimate. And of course when you need a locksmith, it’s likely because your need is urgent. But no matter how urgent it is, don’t be tricked into acting impulsively. You want your lock picked, not your pocket!
Now, we’ve talked about ridiculous costs that scammers will demand. But what about a legitimate locksmith? If your emergency occurs during the day, you can probably expect to spend between $55 and $150 for a car call, and no more than $400 for even the most problematic home call. If your car emergency happens after hours or in a remote area, it could end up costing $150 to $250. Copying a key will usually cost a few dollars, but it could be up to $20 for a specialized key, and anywhere from $90 to $185 for electronic keys. One thing you can be sure of, though, is that it will never be the ridiculous, $1,000 plus fee that a scammer is going to try to charge you.
A reputable locksmith will never charge you an outrageous fee, and will never threaten you. A locksmith in Indianapolis who does not treat you respectfully is not someone you want to deal with. Choose a good, honest locksmith and be alert to scammers.