Image from scam-detector
Image from scam-detector

Locksmiths are often thought as unseen heroes for individuals with hard to unlock cars and homes. But to Fox19, some local locksmiths are not what they seem to appear.

Fox19 conducted an investigation and here is what they found out: some local locksmiths you can see online are actually out of state call centers. The Ohio Attorney General for instance sued a locksmith company for doing deceptive business practices.

Fox19 installed concealed cameras at Green Township’s home. They hid the cameras in the door jam, deck and even on the producer’s coat. They also ask the participation of an Indiana Police locksmith who is on this trade for quite some time now and is serving on the Society of Professional Locksmiths Board. He installed an inexpensive lock at the backdoor of the house which can be easily be unlocked by a trained locksmith and the entire service must only cost around $75.

The Fox19 producer disguised as the locked out owner. She dialed several Cincinnati locksmiths she searched online through her smartphone. They eventually showed up one by one. And the locksmiths’ charges ranged from $64-$169. Though some finished the job for e few seconds, others unlocked the door for a few minutes.

But what was surprising is knowing that some of the numbers they dialed were routed out to the state call centers serving as dispatchers.

“I just realized how easy it is to call a scam”, Locksmith business owner Ken Puthoff said. “I have the feeling that out of town call centers are deceiving local consumers. In your initial talk, the rate can be very affordable but the cost can go up since these locksmith companies usually hire people in the local market who are not really trained”, Ken added. The problem here is that these people are most likely not bonded and not insured.

One of the locksmiths that the Fox19 producer called is 24/7 Cincinnati Locksmith. This business have an almost the same website involved in the lawsuit filed by the Ohio Attorney General. They only vary in their service charge and phone numbers. During the call, they quoted $15 for their service but the actual charged made was $169. When the technician was confronted, this is what he simply replied; “locksmith services is normally expensive”. The technician also evaded questions about their company and when asked about their exact address, he only said; “Downtown Cincinnati”.

It is very important to only hire a trusted locksmith company. You need to know if they are bonded and insured and ask for the technician’s ID and certification. Asking for a written estimate prior to the work will also protect you from possible overcharging.