Don't wait until you're locked out at night in the cold to contact a locksmith. Know ahead of time who you'd call, should you ever have a need for this kind of service. And keep that number in your phone, wallet, purse and car.
- First find their address on their ad or website. Try to find on Google and other directory listings customer reviews.
- Don't wait till you need them before calling them; call them simply to learn a few things: 1) Where are their technicians based? 2) Are they licensed? 3) What is the registered name of the business? If at this point you don't get good vibes from them, end the transaction. Otherwise, then ask about their preliminary cost estimate. An unbelievably low quote (like $20) probably means a scam or hidden costs.
- If they answer your phone call with a generic name such as "locksmith services," be suspicious. If they can't give a specific business name, move on.
- When it's time to hire a locksmith, inform the dispatcher you need to see the technician's certification and ID, and that you would like a written estimate prior to the service.
- Before having them come out, make sure you get information about any extra charges such as for mileage, service call minimums or emergency hours.
- Check the locksmith's vehicle; it should be marked, and get the license number.
- Ask to see his locksmith license. The following states require locksmiths to be licensed: Alabama, California, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas.
- If the locksmith insists on cash, this may mean a scam.
- If the technician won't give a written estimate before starting the job, end the transaction.
- If the onsite estimate doesn't match the phone estimate, do not permit the job to be performed.
- If he says, "The lock needs to be drilled out," ask why, because a professional locksmith should have the skills and tools to unlock just about any door.
- Don't pay until you're satisfied with the job.
Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.