Shocking locksmith scams are alive and well in Naples. With absolutely no regulation on who can become a locksmith in Collier County, literally anyone can legally do the job. This means you might at the very least hire someone who does shoddy work, or at the worst you may be inviting a violent felon, a thief, or sex offender into your home. There are known criminals who own and work a locksmith companies in Collier County. Learn what to do if you are caught in a scam and how to avoid one in the first place.
- Honey, I Hired the Mob – Organized criminal enterprises are setting up locksmith scams nationwide. Rampant in Florida and Collier County, these enterprises make money off run-of-the-mill locksmith services and even have top listings in Google (oftentimes with many fake positive reviews) and huge YellowPage ads with legitimate-sounding, yet fake addresses and dozens of phone numbers. Some of them claim to be “Locksmith Referral Services”, all of the locksmith referral services are actually covers for scammers. What they don’t tell you is they make the big bucks by sending untrained technicians, low-level criminals, or even victims of human trafficking to do the work on your lock. Unknowingly handing over your keys, payment information, and address to a crime ring can leave you and your family wide open to additional crimes. What to do – Instead of relying solely on a quick internet search or the Yellow Pages, ask around town about locksmiths with good reputations, or try using some of the industry’s top associations or brands for a referral. We recommend the Allegion Locksmith Partner Search. Allegion is the company that owns the largest and most trusted residential and commercial lock brands in the world, only highly trained locksmiths are permitted to be called their Allegion Locksmith Partners. The Associated Locksmiths of America, The Safe and Vault Technicians Association, and The Society of Professional Locksmiths all have strict requirements and will not tolerate locksmith scammers in their groups.
- The Old Bait-and-Switch – You are in a jam, locked out of your own house, so you hop online and find a locksmith with a decent website and a great low advertised rate. You call for a quote and get the same great price, just $19 for a lockout! The guy arrives on scene and you feel a little uneasy. Then he springs it on you, it is going to be $900 to finish the job and he needs to get paid now. You tell him he’s crazy and that you aren’t going to pay that much, so he takes matters into his own hands, bully-style. These guys will often threaten to call the cops on YOU if you don’t pay. It isn’t uncommon for these guys to snatch your credit card or set of keys and high-tail it out of there or they simply refuse to leave at all! I’ve even heard about a grandmother who was conned into letting a con artist break her car window instead of using a locksmith tool and then charge her $800 and no he didn’t fix the window! These scammers often end up swindling their customers for $300 or more for a service that should run you about $100, now we can see how they afford to dominate all of those $19 locksmith ads and locksmith referral service ads at the top of Google! What to do – If you are intimidated, call the police. Don’t fall into the too-good-to-be-true $15 / $19 / $29 locksmith scam and insist on a full quote over the phone.
- We Only Take Cash – If you pay using your credit card and there are any shenanigans, you can usually dispute the charge with your card issuer and get your money back. Scammers do not like to take credit cards, because they can lose the money in a chargeback. If you pay with a check or cash, you are out of luck unless you go to court. Shady locksmith companies will always advertise that they take credit cards, but once they get there they will tell you they will not accept credit card payments and usually demand nothing but cold, hard, cash. What to do – Never go to the ATM with a locksmith who is demanding cash. Insist that credit card (not debit!) is your only method of payment and most of the time, magically, a working credit card machine will appear or they will just write down the number to process later.
- Drill Baby Drill – A scammer locksmith you hired takes one peek at your lock and says, “Listen little lady, the only way I’m getting you back in that house is if we drill out that lock”. Unless you have highly specialized high-security keys, this just isn’t true. They just want to sell you a whole new handle-set, usually poor quality since they don’t have access to the good brands, or they have no idea what they are doing and shouldn’t be working on your door to begin with. A good locksmith has the tools and training in order to gain access to your home using non-destructive entry techniques. What to do – Don’t let them drill your lock unless they have at least attempted picking it for a while using proper tools. If they tell you they need to break your window, break your lock, or drill your lock, tell them never mind, ask them to leave your property immediately, then call someone else. Sometimes locks have to be drilled open, but this should be a last-resort, not the first thought.
- When a Local Phone # isn’t so Local – You look in your local phone book or click to call a number from a Google listing, dial a local number, and a friendly voice answers the phone… from Detroit, but you have no idea they aren’t local! Locksmith “referral services” have been swindling locals for years and raking in big cash. If the company doesn’t give you the name of their business, just says “locksmith company” or something generic when they answer the phone, then you have probably called a locksmith referral service, not from a local legitimate company. These locksmith “referral services” will dispatch your call to anyone that will go out there and do the job, and I mean ANYONE. They may or may not have a marked car, they won’t have a uniform, and I can guarantee they won’t have any clue what they are doing. Some of them use fake addresses, like empty lots, vacant homes, someone else’s home address, or unrelated storefronts. There are many of these fake storefronts in Naples. These services often employ criminals and combine one or more of the other scams listed above. What to do – Ask for the local locksmith’s address and do a Google Street View search or stop in to make sure they actually operate out of that location.
For even more great information about locksmith scams, check out this excellent Locksmith Scam Alert video produced by the Society of Professional Locksmiths.
Stay safe out there folks, and please share this post to educate your friends before one of them falls victim to another unfortunate Naples locksmith scam!