Imagine this scenario: it is a beautiful sunny day and you are headed to the mall to do some shopping. You pull in to the parking lot, gather together all of your things, and get out of the car to go inside. As you swing the door shut behind you, you suddenly realize that you left your car keys in the ignition. You frantically turn around to check the door only to find that it is locked.

As frustrating as it is to lock yourself out, it happens to everyone at one point or another. If there is no one available to bring you a spare set of keys, your only option is to contact a locksmith to help you get back inside. If you decide to call a locksmith, it is important to follow some basic safety precautions.

Although most locksmiths are trustworthy, there are some shady individuals out there who try to take advantage of people in these types of situations. The five tips below will help you avoid locksmith scams so that you can safely and quickly get back into your home or vehicle:

  1. Prepare In Advance Rather than waiting until you are already locked out to start searching for a locksmith, consider doing some research in advance. It only takes a few minutes to learn more about the locksmiths in your area. With a quick online search, you can learn everything from when a company was established to how happy their customers are with their service. After reading through reviews and comparing your options, you should be able to come up with at least a couple of local locksmith services that seem trustworthy. Add their contact information to your phone so that you can access it if you find yourself in a situation where you need it.
  2. Make Sure That The Locksmith You Hire Has A Local Address Check their website to find out what address they have listed. Enter that address into your favourite mapping program. Use the street view feature to make sure that they are really located where they say they are. If the address is a strip mall or office building, you may not be able to tell using this method. In that case, try contacting one of the other businesses at that address to ask if the locksmith is really located on-site. Even though that may sound a little bit extreme, it is usually worthwhile. Most scammers provide fake addresses so that they don’t have to deal with any blowback when people try to find them at a later date.
  3. Verify That The Locksmith Is Licensed, Unfortunately, not every state requires locksmiths to be licensed. However, there are quite a few states that do. Find out what the requirements are in your area. Then, check to make sure that the locksmith you hire is in compliance with the laws of your state.
  4. Avoid Any Deals That Sound Way Too Good To Be True When you do reach out to a locksmith, ask them to provide you with an estimate over the phone. If the price they quote you is too low, it could be a red flag. Most legitimate locksmiths charge a minimum of $50 for a call. Many charges more than that. If someone tells you that they will help you out for an extremely low price like $20, they probably aren’t being upfront about their pricing. In situations like these, they often will add on fees for extra services, only telling you about the additional expenses after the work is done. To avoid any surprises, always ask about any extra fees in advance.
  5. Consider Paying With A Credit Card Scammers often try to convince their customers to pay in cash. This eliminates any paper trail and makes it practically impossible for victims to recover their money. When you pay with a credit card, on the other hand, you can always dispute any unfair charges. The best way to avoid locksmith scams is by doing your research ahead of time. By gathering the contact information of reputable locksmiths in advance, you will know exactly who to call the next time you find yourself locked out of your home or vehicle.