Don’t fall victim to Mock Locksmith Scams
Many cities have scam locksmiths, which pose with realistic online listings to nab up customers. Despite Google’s supposed monitoring systems, many scam locksmiths are able to get results high up on Google searches. Many of these scam locksmiths are unlicensed contractors, hired by out of state call centers, called Lead Generators, who make profit by tricking Google to provide their users fake listings claiming physical locations, when in reality the listings don’t have any true physical locations.
Lead Generator Syndicates
The purpose of these lead generators is to extract as much cash from customers as is possible. The basic method of doing this is having a phone representative giving the customer a low estimate, around 20 dollars, but the contractor demanding much higher than that once they get to the location – a form of highway robbery, where most people will grudgingly pay ny price to be let back inside their vehicle or homes. It’s a bait and switch trick that’s growing more common across the country.
Google Scam Monitoring
While Google is committed to stop the proliferation of scam companies, it’s doing so at a very slow pace. Lead Generators go so far as to photoshop fake buildings onto Google maps, and flooding AdWords and other paid advertising services with ads for absurdly cheap service. Many of these scam companies are run by Israelis who use Israel based employment websites to find workers and systems like Google’s My Business to craft up fake listings. Google does, in fact, have oversight for these listings, as pointed out in a recent NY Times article that profiles a self-styled “google vigilante” who was deleting scam locksmith profiles from Google Maps. Frustrated with Google’s seemingly slow pace in removing these ads, he posted a fake link to a marijuana dispensary onto Google maps – and lost his Google job. Technically, through the Communications Decency Act, Google is not responsible for fake information published on their servers, even if they know in advance that the information is incorrect.
Locksmith Scam-Proof Tips
If you’re trying to figure out if a locksmith is legitimate or a scam, try following these tips.
- Search for an address – and if they have accreditation from the Associated Locksmiths of America. Also, check their Yelp reviews for reviews that seem like they were written by real customers, and not paid fluffers.
- When you call them, ask where their technicians are located, what the name of the business is, and if they have official license – and check this information against what you found in their Google listing.
- Ask for an advance rough estimate – if they say something unrealistically low like 20 dollars, you can be sure that it’s a scam.
- Ask to see the locksmith’s certification and ID, with a written price estimate before any work is started.
- When the technician arrives at your location, check if their vehicle is marked – if it’s unmarked, tell them to leave.
- If they say that the entire lock will need to be drilled out and replaced, ask them for a detailed explanation, or if there are any alternatives.
- Don’t ever hand over your cash or credit card unless you’re satisfied with their estimate – only taking upfront cash is additionally a major sign of a fake locksmith.