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The FTC Urges Consumers To Use Caution When Selecting A Locksmith

Part of protecting your sensitive personal information includes the physical security of your home. And physical security includes a locksmith, when we need duplicate keys made or the locks changed on our doors. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises consumers to use caution when selecting a locksmith:

What’s the best way to pick a reputable – and local – locksmith? Do the research before you need one – the same way you would a plumber, electrician, or other professional – and then program his or her number into your phone.

The problem is many locksmiths in your local yellow pages aren't local at all. There are more useful tips in the FTC publication: "The Keys to Hiring a Reputable Locksmith:"

  1. If you are locked out of your car and have a roadside assistance service, call them first
  2. Call family or friends for recommendations (or for spare keys)
  3. If you find a locksmith in the phone book, on the Internet, or through directory assistance, and a business address is given, confirm that the address belongs to that locksmith
  4. If you call a locksmith who doesn’t list an address, ask why. Get an answer to your satisfaction, or look elsewhere
  5. If a company answers the phone with a generic phrase like “locksmith services,” rather than a company-specific name, be wary
  6. Get an estimate for all work and replacement parts from the locksmith before work begins
  7. Ask about additional fees before you agree to have the locksmith perform the work
  8. Ask if there is a charge for mileage, or a minimum fee for a service call
  9. If the price the locksmith provides when he arrives doesn’t jibe with the estimate you got on the telephone, do not allow the work to be done
  10. Never sign a blank form authorizing work
  11. Find out if the locksmith is insured. If your property is damaged during a repair, or if faulty work leads to loss or damage, it’s important for the locksmith to have insurance to cover your losses
  12. When the locksmith arrives, ask for identification, including a business card and, where applicable, a locksmith license. Nine states require locksmiths to be licensed: Alabama, California, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas
  13. Make sure that the company name on the estimate matches the name on the truck, and both match any business cards you receive
  14. Expect the locksmith to ask you for identification,.. a legitimate locksmith will confirm your identity to ensure you’re the property owner before doing any work
  15. In case you are locked out, be wary if the locksmith says up-front that the lock has to be drilled and replaced
  16. After the work is completed, get an itemized invoice that covers parts, labor, mileage, and the price of the service call
  17. Verify the locksmith with your state Attorney General (www.naag.org), local consumer protection agency (www.consumeraction.gov), and the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) to make sure there are no unresolved complaints on file

Basically, you don't want to hire a crook and give them the keys to your home.

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