Tips to avoid locksmith scams

HOUSTON - If you're locked out of your home or car, a locksmith can be your lifeline. But make sure you find a reputable one.

Local 2 Consumer Expert Amy Davis advised, beware of companies that answer with generic phrases like "locksmith services," rather than a specific name. If a locksmith doesn't provide the business' name, find someone else.

Angie Hicks from Angie's List had another important tip. "Beware of locksmiths that show up in unmarked cars and not in a company uniform and if you ask for ID they fail to deliver it. If any of these scenarios happen you should choose another locksmith," Hicks advised.

Get an estimate over the phone and ask about extra charges. If the on-site price doesn't match the phone estimate, don't let them do the work.

"If you're calling for emergency service, quite often there will be additional costs if it's after hours, weekends can be more, holidays can be more, even the weather can have an effect on it. All these things may add to the cost that you'll be charged," said locksmith Barry Campbell.

Do your research now, before you have an emergency. Check a locksmith's state licensing status and save the phone number.

"All too often we hire a locksmith in an emergency situation. Oftentimes we'll skip out on research. Find a company you're going to use and tuck that number away in your wallet so you always have it handy," Hicks said.

Also, be cautious of any locksmith that insists on drilling or replacing the lock up front. Most experienced locksmiths have the skills and tools to unlock most any door without drilling.

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