Looking out for phony locksmiths

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It can happen anytime, anywhere. Locking yourself out of your house or car is--no doubt--a hassle. But if you're not careful, your locksmith could make the situation worse!

After 15 years with a local locksmith company, Chris Craft knows how long it takes and how much it costs to unlock someone's house or car.

"I would say within the first 10 minutes you should be able to pick it," he says.

It's little facts like these he and his coworkers at American Lock and Key on Troy Highway fear customers don't understand and wind up being taken advantage of by phony locksmith companies popping up nationwide.

"They're sending out a representative that they have hired. In most cases we've found, they're not trained, they're not properly licensed," says Owner, Dallas Brooks.

He is also a member of the state board that licenses locksmiths.

He says there are some common tactics illegitimate companies are using such as:

--Demanding more money than customers were quoted over the phone

--Insisting on cash only transactions

--Damaging locks, doors and windows by using unnecessary power drills

--Tacking on extra fees for what may be fake services

"They get on site. They end up raising the price on you," says Brooks.

If you lock yourself out of the house during the daytime, professional locksmiths say it shouldn't be more than about $60 dollars for a service call. If you're quoted more than $100 dollars they say you might want to start asking some questions.

"Ask for those licenses. They [locksmiths] all should have picture Id's on them. You should ask to see that as soon as they come in the door," adds Brooks.

"You like to know who you're dealing with," says Craft.

Professional locksmiths say you should even be mindful of the vehicle your representative is driving. If it has the company's name on it, that's a good sign they are legitimate.

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