The first thing you can do to avoid this is to know who you are doing business with. Check with your local chamber of commerce, they provide a free service to the community by letting you know who's local and present in your community. Also you should be aware of the way these con artist work. The more familiar you are to their scam the less likely you will become a victim. The tips in the below "Angie's List video tips" video are also helpful.
Locksmith Scam Modus Operandi
OUT-OF-STATE COMMUNICATION OFFICE: An out-of-state communication office is established to receive phone calls from all parts of the country. “Service Agents” are identified in every major city where the organization operates to be on call for dispatch. Background checks and technical skill tests are not performed when hiring these agents.
FASLE LISTING DISSEMINATION: Thousands of FALSE directory listings are disseminated all over the internet and Yellow Pages; entire teams are hired to solely accomplish this task. Addresses are stolen from real locations without the owner’s consent to be paired with an externally routed local number answered in an out-of-state facility. Existing local locksmiths with an established market are also targeted for Identity Theft, their address and names are stolen and phone calls are also deviated to the organization’s out-of-state calling center.
BAIT ADVERTISING: Deceptive bait advertising is displayed in search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. The most typical type of ad they use is the $15 Service Call offer.
AGENT DISPATCH: Once a customer calls requesting a service the out-of-state office calls the first available agent on their list and asks them for availability, if the answer is yes, said agent will be dispatched to the service location. Almost always these agents arrive late since making the customer wait is part of the bait scheme.
OVERCHARGE: The agent arrives with no uniform and unidentified vehicles to the customer’s location. The $15 Service call and other deceptive form of advertising are not sustainable even for operations like this one, and after opening the lock the agent overcharges the customer up to 10 times ($125-$195) more than the advertised price. Most times the customer ends up paying the amount because he or she is in a vulnerable situation and because time has been invested in waiting for the Locksmith to arrive.
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