How to Identify (And Avoid!) Locksmith Scams

Identify locksmith scams

Finding yourself locked out of your home or vehicle can be an incredibly stressful and inconvenient situation. In your haste and desperation to get back inside to your belongings, family, or valuables, you may be tempted to call the first locksmith company you find on Google to come unlock your door right away.

However, not all locksmiths and locksmith companies have your best interest in mind. Some unethical locksmiths are outright scammers looking to take advantage of desperate customers in vulnerable situations.

As scams and predatory business practices seem everywhere lately, it’s important to stay vigilant and know the red flags to watch out for when hiring a locksmith.

The practical solution is to identify questionable practices upfront and understand how to avoid potential locksmith scams to ensure you receive fast, affordable service from a reputable, ethical professional locksmith. Let’s discuss exactly that in this blog post.

How to Identify Locksmith Scams

Locksmith Scams

While most locksmiths are ethical professionals, unfortunately there are some deceitful ones out there looking to scam desperate customers. Common predatory tactics include unrealistic cheap quotes that spike after arrival, pushy upselling, lack of credentials, and more. Read on to learn more about identifying these scams below.

Excessive Price Changes Upon Arrival

One of the most frequent and infuriating locksmith scams happens when a dispatcher provides a reasonable quoted price over the phone, often $15-$30 for a basic car or house lockout service, but then the technician who arrives claims the job requires more work and ups the charge to $200 or even $500+ once on site.

The scam relies on the principle of sunk cost fallacy – figuring the customer has already invested time waiting for the dispatch, or taken time off work so they are more likely to pay the inflated last-minute charges.

Legitimate locksmiths may occasionally need to revise an estimate slightly based on unforeseen complications, but 50x markups are a major red flag!

Lack of a Local Physical Address

Quality local locksmith companies have a proper physical business address listed on their website, ads, and other branding. Be very wary of any locksmiths using only a P.O. box or an address in a different state or region.

Looking up addresses can also help pinpoint location-spoofing scams where a company pretends to be local but actually operates from a different area or offshore entirely.

Unmarked Vehicles or Lack of Identification

Reputable, professional locksmiths proudly display company branding and identification on their service vehicles and uniforms. You should be suspicious of any locksmith who shows up in an unmarked car with no company info along with no uniform, badge, or ID indicating their name and credentials.

Insistence on Cash-Only Transactions

Scamming locksmiths very often insist on cash payment rather than credit card or check in order to avoid creating a paper trail that could allow you to more easily dispute fraudulent charges or contact your credit card company for chargebacks down the line. Refusal to provide other payment options should be a cause of concern for you.

Unusually Low Phone Quotes

Quotes that sound far below the typical going rate for your area, such as $10-15 for a car or house callout, are a common trick scammers use to lure in unsuspecting customers.

They make up for the unrealistic low quotes by tacking on hidden fees and exaggerating the required work once arriving on site, so the final price often ends up much higher than average locksmith costs for your market.

High-Pressure Sales Tactics

From demanding cash payment upfront before any services to pushing add-ons and upgrades you didn’t ask for, shady locksmiths rely heavily on pressure tactics to squeeze as much money from clients as possible in the moment.

A trusted professional will never rush or intimidate you into making quick decisions about services, fees, or signing anything on the spot without reviewing it first.

Lack of Licensing and Insurance Info

Ask to see proof of proper licensing in your state and current insurance paperwork, which legitimate locksmiths will readily provide either on their website or in person when asked. Avoid doing business with any company that is unable or unwilling to verify this important documentation.

Use of Intimidation or Threats

A huge no-no is any locksmith threatening legal action or forcing entry into your property before you have explicitly approved this or signed a work order. Even if you initially called for services, you always have the right to cancel or deny service and get a second opinion. A locksmith using intimidation or threats is absolutely unacceptable.

Offering to Drill the Lock First

Reliable locksmiths know that drilling locks should only ever be a last resort, not the first solution. Scammers, however, push drilling as it lets them charge more for the added work of lock replacement, so be very cautious of any locksmith who jumps right to drilling before attempting other less invasive and destructive methods first.

How to Avoid Locksmith Scams

How to avoid locksmiths scams

Finding yourself in need of a locksmith can be stressful, especially if you end up the victim of a locksmith scam. Unfortunately, there are dishonest locksmiths that use deceptive practices to take advantage of customers.

Follow these Guidelines on How to Avoid Locksmith Scams

Research and Verify the Locksmith Company Beforehand

Before you end up locked out, do some research on locksmiths in your area. Search online reviews and check complaint sites like BBB for any red flags. Ensure they have a longstanding local physical address and website with transparent contact info.

Ask for Identification, Licensing, and Insurance on Arrival

Once a locksmith arrives, ask to see official photo ID, current locksmith licence for your state, and proof of liability insurance coverage. Reputable technicians will gladly provide these credentials.

Get a Written Estimate Before any Work Starts

To avoid bait-and-switch surprises, insist on a written itemised quote before allowing any work to begin. If the locksmith insists everything must be done on a time and materials basis, call around for a company willing to provide upfront estimates.

Stay Alert to Lowball Phone Quotes

Be very cautious if an initial phone estimate seems significantly lower than competitors. Get quotes from multiple companies and be ready to walk away if price skyrockets later.

Prefer Traceable Payment Methods

Only pay via credit card or check, never cash. It creates a paper trail and makes disputing fraudulent charges a lot easier. Always ask for detailed invoices reflecting all quoted charges.

Utilise Recommendations from Trusted Sources

Check with friends, neighbours, coworkers, or real estate agents for referral recommendations to locksmiths they have personally used and had good experiences with. Look for consistency in the company’s name, branding, quoted prices, and overall service.


You can minimise risks by being proactive and hiring an ethical, professional locksmith who actually wants to help, not scam you. For fast, affordable and honest locksmith services in the Sydney area, a company like Clockwork Locksmiths is a great option.

Available 24/7 including nights and weekends for emergencies, Clockwork Locksmiths offers upfront pricing, licensed and insured technicians, and top-quality work. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable – take proactive steps to prevent locksmith scams by only dealing with legit locksmith professionals.