11 Red Flags of Common Locksmith Scams to Watch Out For

Fatima Buzdar

January 3, 2023

A locksmith in a red cap and shirt is seen from behind as they insert a key into a door lock. The individual is holding the key with their right hand, while the door features a modern handle and lock mechanism. The scene appears to be outdoors.

During a distressing lockout or a dire need to have your lock repaired or replaced, your instinct would likely be to turn on your phone and quickly pick a locksmith to assist you after scrolling through the internet listings. But hold on! Is that locksmith you are hiring really a legitimate, certified and honest professional you can trust… or are they a mere fraudster coming after your pocket?

It may be a bit of a surprise to learn that that fake locksmith scams are extremely rampant. There are scammers claiming to be legitimate locksmiths to scam their preys who are already in stress and vulnerable to falling for scams due to their panicked states. Even among the legitimate locksmiths, there are some bad apples who take advantage of their clients not knowing better and exploit them for profit.

Certainly the last thing you want during a stressful lockout and other lock needs is to fall an unfortunate victim to these hoaxes preying on people… In order to save yourself from the danger of being scammed, it is crucial to know the red flags to look out for to protect yourself from cons and find legitimate lock solutions!

11 Warning Red Flags to Know to Avoid Locksmith Scams

Being vigilant and aware of common red flags to spot a locksmith scam can save you from your money falling into the pockets of fraudsters and your issue not being properly dealt with. By following these tips and ensuring to choose the locksmith carefully, you can find a trustworthy local locksmith for your needs.

However, keep in mind that as much as looking out for these signs can be helpful in avoiding scams, they are not black and white rules for whether your locksmith is fraudulent or legit. Ultimately, trust your gut and make a sound judgement based on the circumstances.

1. Seeks Upfront Payment

Hoax locksmiths commonly seek payment from you as soon as they arrive on site and before they have even begun the work. This is more often than not a blaring red flag and a very common tactic in the locksmith scam industry. Once the scammers are handed over the money, they either discreetly maneuver an escape without doing any work at all, or they do a very poor job that was certainly not worth what they got out of your pocket.

And once that money ends up in their hands, your chances of getting it back are likely to be slim. Hence, with that in mind, it is highly recommended that you pay the locksmith only when they have finished up the job. By refusing to pay upfront over the locksmith asking, especially if it is a large sum, you can protect yourself from your money being wasted on a hoax.

2. Has No Credentials

Make sure that the locksmith has the appropriate credentials and licensing for their operations. Any locksmith that can be trusted must be licensed. You do not want someone unlicensed messing with your locks and charging you for unprofessional work.

You can check if they claim to be licensed on their website. Additionally, make sure to check that they have proof to back these claims. The locksmith is likely to be carrying their license, so if you have suspicions, you can request them to show you. Otherwise, you can also ask the company over the phone if they can provide verification of their technicians.

3. Comes in an Unbranded Vehicle or Uniform

Most legitimate and reliable locksmith companies provide branded uniforms to their locksmiths as well as vehicles to drive with the company branding embedded on them. A locksmith appearing in an unmarked uniform or vehicle is often a red flag indicating that that they are a fake locksmith.

4. Does Not Give Their Company Name

If you talk over the phone with a call center operator for a fraudulent company, they often try to evade giving their company’s name. Alternatively, they give a very ambiguous business name like “Ontario Locksmiths” or “Emergency Locksmiths”. In such cases, you are very much right to suspect that you are talking with scammers. A legitimate locksmith company would introduce their company name right away over the phone.

5. Charges an Excessively High Price

You should take your time to research the typical rates in your area for the type of service you are seeking in order to garner an idea of what is a legitimate and reasonable price you can expect to be charged. For example, if you are based in Toronto, make sure to look up how much locksmiths cost in Toronto.

If the locksmith’s quote is way higher than the typical prices in your area, then high chances are that either they are not legitimate locksmiths or just dishonest professionals attempting to take advantage of you. Either way, you should avoid such services with such high quotes so that you do not get ripped off.

6. Offers a Suspiciously Low Price

On the other hand, if the quoted price is so low that it feels suspiciously cheap, then it probably is indeed too good to be true. Scam locksmiths often quote a low price to entice people into hiring them, since low costs are undoubtedly anyone’s high priority when choosing a service. Once they arrive, however, this will turn out to be a different story.

How this locksmith scam works is that they will increase your final bill once they are done with their work. They will make excuses and charge much higher than you agreed upon.

7. Wants to Drill and Replace the Lock Right Away

Professional locksmiths are trained to work with all sorts of locks and optimally resolving lockout. and are capable of unlocking most of them without inflicting damage upon them. Hence, if a locksmith wants to jump into the destructive means like drilling the lock right away, then this should raise your suspicions that you are dealing with a fake locksmith. They may try to claim the lock is too complex to be picked, but that might not be necessarily the case. 

Their ulterior motive? To replace the perfectly fine lock that can be picked without damage and sell you a new lock replacement to increase the final charges. Even worse, the lock they sell you might have a low and unreliable quality, but they sell it to you with high pricing even so.

8. Refuses to Give a Quote

Before the locksmith begins their work, make sure to seek their quote over the phone. If the locksmith refuses to give you any quote at all and tries to evade it with excuses, then you likely are being scammed.

Because this easily leads the locksmith to taking advantage of you and hitting you with ridiculously high charges that you likely would not have agreed to in advance. Hence, always agree on a quote before the locksmith proceeds, preferably in written form as a solid evidence. 

9. Final Charges Differ With Quote

Certain scam locksmiths back paddle on their original quote. They overcharge you much higher than what you agreed, either by lying that the amount agreed was higher than reality or excusing the bigger charges upon ‘more complex work than expected’. 

Legitimate locksmiths also generally give a written quote for you to sign. It is best to have it on your side, so that you can assert that this is the amount that is fair to be paid. Even if it is not in writing, the dispute would likely be on your side due to the locksmith not ensuring to follow the procedure of written agreement.

10. Lacks Reputable Reviews

Looking through a locksmith’s customer reviews is a must. Lack of reviews does not necessarily indicate a scam, as the business may just be new to the scene or simply not widely known yet. However, you should definitely practice caution, since it is crucial to have testimonials to rely upon.

Even if the company shows testimonials on their website, you need to be sure that these are legitimate. Customer praises on their website prove nothing on their own. What you should look out for is whether the business processes their reviews through a third-party service like TrustMate that enforces regulation to prevent tampering.

11. Avoids Credit Card Payment

It goes without saying that scammers take cautions to ensure that they are not traceable through their shady activities. As credit card payments and receipts are easily traceable and even disputable, they would try to avoid accepting credit cards. Instead, they would insist on cash payment. Cash payments do not provide you the protection a credit card can, but it can certainly protect a shady scammer.

A locksmith working on a door lock

Looking For Legitimate Locksmith Services? Get in Touch With Our Reputable Locksmiths

Fake locksmiths and dishonest technicians are rampant, and it is important to know and look out for fishy signs to avoid common locksmith scams. Scammers operate with various shady ploys that can be hard to discern, so you have to stay vigilant to avoid being ripped off. With adequate research, you can find the means to have legitimate locking solutions.

If you are searching for a locksmith in Georgina, then you can put trust in our Georgina locksmith services. Our reputable technicians have over 5 years of experience with serving Georgina residents with honest and excellent services. Whether you are suffering with a lockout, need lock replacement or repair, or looking to have a new key made, we can serve your needs with utmost integrity and guaranteed satisfaction.

Safeguard your property with our expert locksmith solutions. Get in touch with our approachable, knowledgeable team.