Locksmiths worried about bogus ads, scammers

Posted at 6:05 PM, Apr 04, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-04 18:17:29-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) - If you find yourself locked out of your car or home, you trust the person who responds will be reputable.

But some locksmiths here in central Virginia have a warning, some ads in the phone book are for unlicensed, disreputable locksmiths.

The owner of American Lock and Key, which has been in business for 33 years, said if you find some of the ad's for his business in the Yellow Pages, several of them are bogus.

Barry Wilson, the owner of American Lock and Key, said the only information that is accurate in several of the ad's is the name of the business.

The addresses listed are all incorrect. Plus, Wilson said the phone number does not belong to the business either.

They go to someone else.

"They're taking advantage of us as business people and more importantly they're taking advantage of consumers," said Wilson.

But one of the businesses listed, does actually have Wilson's address, but a different company name.

Locksmiths said the hundreds of names and numbers in the yellow pages are really just for a handful of people.

"There are just hundreds of them in the book and they are all really going to the same place. It's a call center somewhere. Sometimes they're in New York, I've heard they are in Florida, sometimes in the Midwest," said Bob Buckley of Buckley's SecuritySmiths in Petersburg.

Buckley and Wilson said one common ruse to watch out for is a $19.95 or $29.95 fee for a service trip. Buckely said that cost is just a setup for a scam -- or worse.

"They are over charged, often times their locks are damaged or their cars in some cases," said Buckley.

However, there are some things you can do to protect yourself and your family when you call for a locksmith.

"If someone shows up to your house or business, you ask for their criminal justice license.  If they don't produce one, send them away," said Wilson.

Both Buckley and Wilson believe it is not just victims who are getting cheated.

"Thousands and thousands of dollars are being ripped out of the economy, that these people aren't paying taxes on," said Wilson.

Wilson is meeting with two state delegates on Thursday evening, to discuss the problems and see if there is anymore help the state can give legitimate locksmiths.