By Susan Koeppen

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – If you’re locked out of your home or car, a locksmith can be your lifeline, but make sure you hire a reputable one to avoid being ripped off.

While most locksmiths are reputable contractors, there are some scam artists out there.

“The best way to protect yourself when hiring a locksmith is to find one before you need one. 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,” Angie Hicks from Angie’s List said.

When picking a locksmith, ask for proof of affiliation with an industry organization like the Associated Locksmiths of America, as well as proof that the locksmith is insured and bonded.

“One common complaint we hear about in the locksmith category is when consumers call what they believe to be a local locksmith only to find out it’s been routed to a national call center. And the locksmiths aren’t delivering on time nor on budget from what they anticipated,” Hicks said.

Look for warning signs that a locksmith may be a sham such as:

They don’t have the proper licensing or credentials.

They answer calls with generic phrases like locksmith services instead of a company name.

They will quote one price and charge another, often asking customers to pay in cash.

If you are locked out, be cautious of companies that recommend or insist on drilling or replacing the lock up front.

“They usually show up, tell you it’s a high security lock that they have to drill it. I’ve seen them use hammers, pliers, everything else and just tear the lock off or they might damage a car. Then you get a bill for many times over than what they quoted you,” locksmith Barry Campbell said.

The average cost of getting a lock open is between $60 and $100, but you may have to pay more if it’s at night, on a weekend or if it’s a holiday.


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