A few years back, we conducted an undercover sting operation of scam locksmiths in the Cincinnati area. After our investigation, those scammers disappeared.
But a new report now finds that phony locksmiths are showing up again.
Angie's List: Complaints are up
Locksmith scams are making a comeback, according to a new report from our partners at the consumer guide Angie's List.
Angie's List reports a new surge in complaints about locksmiths charging far more than they quote on the phone.
Barry Campbell, a legitimate locksmith, explained that "they usually show up, tell you it's a high security lock, they have to drill it, drill the thing off. They will use pliers, everything else, and tear the lock off. Then charge you a fortune."
3 years ago, one Northern Kentucky woman told me how easy it is to fall for these, from ads online or in the Yellow Pages.
"They quoted me over the phone $39," Heather Slavey said. "But when they got there, they had an additional charge of $110."
Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List, says while these locksmiths may have local names, and even a local phone number, they are not.
"Consumers call what they believe to be a local locksmith, only to find out it's been routed to a national call center, and the locksmith does not deliver on time or on budget," Hicks said.
She says what you get is a locksmith who will hold your home or car hostage until you pay his inflated fee.
How to protect yourself
If you are locked out and need to call a locksmith, ask where they are located: It may be a call center in New York City or Florida.
A 513 or 859 area code is not enough to guarantee they are in the Cincinnati area.
As always, don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
"Like" John Matarese on Facebook
Follow John on Twitter (@DWYM)
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
John Matarese reports on the best weekend sales, and one item to avoid