Most people will require the services of a locksmith at some point in their lives. You might lose your keys, lock yourself out of your home or car, need your locks changed or need a key for an existing lock that you lost the keys to. As with any service profession, scammers unfortunately do exist in the trade. Untrained scam locksmith technicians can damage your locks and home, charge outrageous fees and possibly even sell your personal information to burglars or other criminals after the job is completed.
In Florida, there is NO mandatory state regulated licensing requirements to operate as a locksmith. This makes Florida a hot bed for scammers and fly-by night companies. Some counties, such as Miami-Dade have imposed a temporary county license to appease a massive amount of public complaints. However, required statewide licenses for locksmiths are still being lobbied for in the Florida House and Senate.
It is best to look for a locksmith who can prove their education to you by showing certificates of completion in the field or memberships in good standing to major associations such as ALOA, SAVTA or SOPL.
Inquire Before You Hire
• Check local service review sites such as Angie’s List, Thumbtack, Home Advisor or the Better Business Bureau for A+ ranked companies who have positive member reviews.
• When you call for locksmith services, be sure the company dispatcher gives you an estimate of the charges via email, so you have proof of the initial quote before the tech arrives.
• Ask them if they have a physical business location and a website you can review.
• Ask them to send you a copy of their insurance and W-9 to prove they are a real company and a legal entity operating inside the state of Florida.
• Ask them to send the arriving tech’s ID via email with a company letter head prior to their arrival.
Always Be on Guard
• Ask to see the license of the arriving locksmith tech you hired when they arrive. Locksmiths are required by law in all 50 states to carry a pocket version of their license or some sort of industry ID to show upon request.
• If the locksmith threatens you or insists on a steep service charge for showing up, call the police immediately and report the company. It is also good to write down the license plate of the tech’s vehicle and take pictures for evidence.
• Make sure the locksmith gives you a final invoice receipt that includes a company name, local address and phone number. Also, verify that the receipt notes the cost of all parts, services rendered and the full amount you were charged.
By Daniel Flores Krakower, Alpha Lock and Key