When you’re suddenly locked out of your business, your stress levels skyrocket. There are many unscrupulous characters out there looking to take advantage of frantic business owners and managers facing this situation.

Commercial locksmith scams are common, but you can protect yourself and your business from them with a bit of knowledge. We’ll also tell you how to spot a real locksmith so that you can feel confident when you’re hiring someone.

The Locksmith Scam

It’s best to know how the locksmith scam works so that you can spot it. This scam often involves a few people working together to scam people. Essentially, you find a “locksmith” business online and give them a call. Several of the businesses you see online may actually all direct to this scammer. They quote you a price that is far too low and promise to arrive quickly. The scammer then calls someone else, who lives relatively close to you, and sends them to your location.

Typically, this person is somewhat out of town unless you live in a very populous area, and they take a long time to show up. That’s because they need to cover a huge range in order to catch enough people in their scam.

When this person does show up, they end up charging you significantly more than the quoted price. In some variations of the scam, the person actually destroys the lock to justify this hike in price. Either way, you end up with a bill you never agreed to, and that is significantly more than you need to pay.

How Do I Know If My Locksmith is Real?

To avoid this scam, you need to know how to spot a real locksmith. Here are the signs:

  • Real address: Scammers give addresses that seem real but are actually residential locations or the location of some other business. Pop onto Google maps and see if there is really a locksmith storefront at the location you’re given.
  • Company name on vehicle and/or uniform: The company you work with should have a prominent name, and it should be clearly visible on the equipment or outfit of the person who arrives at your business.
  • Unusual payment demands: Scammers want either cash, gift cards, or untraceable online payment methods in order to launder their money better. If they will only accept these payment methods, that’s a huge red flag.
  • Arrive on-time: A locksmith should know exactly how long it will take them to get to you. Everyone can hit a bit of traffic, but huge delays a sign that the person who you made the appointment with didn’t know where the other scammer was and how long it would take them to get to you.

How to Stop the Locksmith Scam

What if it’s too late and you’ve called a locksmith that you’re now fairly certain is a scammer? Here’s how to limit your losses if you’re being scammed:

  • Ask for a written estimate: If the person can not provide a written estimate, that’s a sure sign they are a scammer. If they do not provide a written estimate, ask them to leave.
  • Don’t give permission to drill your lock: If anyone says that they need to drill open your lock, they are most likely a scammer. Commercial locksmiths will almost always pick a lock.
  • Contact the authorities: Tell the scammer that you’re going to contact the authorities. If they are a legitimate business, they have nothing to fear.

Lastly, you should always call a second locksmith for another quote or another opinion if something seems fishy.