Out-of-State Companies Posing as Local Locksmiths

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The Attorney General’s Office warns Minnesotans to beware of out-of-state companies deceptively posing as local neighborhood locksmiths.

People locked out of their cars or homes have reported that when they hired these outfits, the contractor who arrived to do the work significantly jacked up the price, damaged property, or demanded hundreds of dollars more than the quote before they would begin work.

Locksmith scams use Internet ads and phone listings to appear like local mom-and-pop shops, using names of local towns, local phone numbers and addresses, or ads claiming they’ve been “part of the community” for “over 30 years.” Instead, these outfits operate out-of-state call centers that forward your information to local “contractors.”

The Attorney General’s Office permanently banned a Florida locksmith company and a New York locksmith company and their owners from operating in Minnesota. These companies lured Minnesota residents to believe they were calling a neighborhood locksmith, when they were really calling a Florida or New York call center.

Locksmith scams prey on the fact that people locked out of their cars or homes are a captive audience in need of quick, nearby help. In some cases, people who unwittingly hired one of these out-of-state operators were left stranded for hours before the contractor arrived.

One woman was locked out of her car, and the company told her the cost would be $95 for a locksmith. When the locksmith arrived, the woman asked the technician to first unlock her car so she could see if the key was there.

The locksmith refused, said that he was required to make a new key, and charged $260. Her key was in the car. In another case, a University of Minnesota student was locked out of her car at night in cold weather. She contacted a locksmith company and received a quote for a $10 service fee and a $35 charge. When the locksmith arrived, he told her that the price would be $140.

Some out-of-state companies have falsely claimed that they were licensed and bonded. Minnesota law does not require locksmiths to be licensed or bonded.

Some municipalities require that a locksmith be certified before doing business in a community. To be certified, a locksmith may be required to complete certain limited training programs on installation and other locksmith skills.

Before hiring a locksmith, consider the following:

If you believe a locksmith has committed a crime—such as criminal damage to property or criminal financial fraud—report the matter to your local police department or county sheriff’s office. They may have the authority to investigate and prosecute criminal locksmith scams.

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