Use a licensed pro and beware of scammers
It happens to all of us: You lock yourself out of your car or home, you lose your keys, or you need help opening an existing lock. That’s where locksmiths come in.
But as with any profession, scammers exist. Unscrupulous technicians can damage locks, charge exorbitant fees, and sell security information about your home to criminals.
In California, locksmiths must be licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). Here are seven quick tips from BSIS to help ensure you have a safe and secure locksmith experience:
- Check the license. Verify a locksmith’s license online anytime with DCA’s free and fast search tool—https://search.dca.ca.gov—or call DCA’s Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- If you’re locked out of your car, call your insurance company first. Your company may have a list of recommended licensed locksmiths or may offer locksmith services as part of its benefits.
- Get references. As with any service, references from people you know can also help you find a reputable, licensed locksmith to contact.
- Do your research. Your local Better Business Bureau offers insights on local businesses and service providers.
- Get an estimate. When you call for locksmith services, be sure the dispatcher gives you an estimate of the charges.
- Ask for licenses on arrival. Ask to see the license of the locksmith you hire when they arrive. Locksmiths are required by law to carry a pocket version of their license. If anything seems wrong, stop the process. If the locksmith threatens you or insists on a charge for showing up, call the police immediately.
- Get a receipt. Make sure the locksmith gives you a receipt that includes a company name, local address, and phone number. Also be certain that the receipt notes the cost of all parts, services, and the full amount you were charged.
Note: If the company performs work at a single site that exceeds $500, a contractor’s license from DCA’s Contractors State License Board is also required. In addition, local governments may require a business permit or license.
If you have concerns about a locksmith, BSIS wants to know: File a complaint regarding a licensed individual or let BSIS know of any unlicensed activity so the Bureau can investigate and keep you and other consumers safe.
BSIS and DCA help protect you, your possessions, and your peace of mind. For more information on California’s more than 400,000 licensed locksmiths and security professionals, visit www.bsis.ca.gov.