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If you ever find yourself locked out of your home or car, you will most likely go online to search for the quickest locksmith closest to where you are. As much as this is a great idea, and while locksmiths very rarely take advantage of people, you need to be aware that a good number of the locksmiths’ listings on Google are probably con artists looking to score a quick.

“Having a reliable and qualified locksmith handle your locks will give you confidence and peace of mind, this is why you need to do all you can to ensure that you always get only the right person for the job” says Frank, engineer at The London Locksmiths.

In this short read, you will find tips that would help you avoid getting scammed when you need the services of a locksmith.

Use a local company

Whether you are using Google or another local search engine, ensure that you focus on locksmiths that have a local office. This is important for so many reasons. You can easily call their numbers and ask specific questions to verify their authenticity. You can also as easily walk down or drive to their offices to verify that they are actually a locksmith service. As an added security, ensure that the locksmith service you are looking at is using a local phone number rather than a call center number as this could mean you are talking with an out of state service.

Compare options

Don’t be in a hurry to choose the first option that you come across. While you may not necessarily fall prey to scammers, you are more likely to get a better deal if you are patient enough to check out other services. A good idea is to call at least three locksmith services and ask them questions before deciding on a choice. You should also compare their prices and level of skills. However, note that price should not be your defining factor as you are more likely to get scammed by services that promise a ridiculously low price.

Check reviews

One good thing about the internet is that you can search for and read what other customers have to say about any business. These third party reviews will help you decide if the business is authentic and qualified. Even though a lot of these companies have reviews on their websites, it is a better idea to look up what people are on third party review websites and social media. Search for companies with 5 star ratings and reviews on Google My Business, Yelp and any other local business review website. The chances of going wrong with a business others have tried and verified are very slim.

Watch out for change in prices

One ploy used by scammers is to put one price on their website and quote you another when you call. Of course, it is possible to get a better deal when you call to negotiate, but if the estimate changes drastically, it may be a ploy to get your patronage and then do a shoddy job. To avoid this, have an upfront agreement that you will only pay the agreed on price if the job is done to your satisfaction.

Drilling should be the last resort

A highly skilled locksmith will have the skills, experience and tools to unlock any door without drilling. As a matter of fact, drilling should be the last option after all else has failed. A scammer will drill your locks and replace them with cheap hardware and then bill you much higher than required.