Consumers in the Boulder-Denver area are warned to beware of individuals posing as Boulder locksmiths who perform unnecessary work or charge exorbitant un-locking fees. The Associated Locksmiths of America, Inc. (ALOA), an international association of locksmith and physical security professionals, recently issued an official warning for Denver, Boulder, and surrounding areas.”This scheme entices locked-out consumers with large Yellow Pages ads that give the impression you are calling a local business,” says ALOA’s Executive Director, Charles W. Gibson, Jr., “These companies manipulate listings with multiple false addresses and phone numbers to make them seem like neighborhood businesses. In actuality, the victims frequently are calling out-of-state operations that are not locksmith companies at all. The consumer is quoted a reasonable price over the phone, but when a person posing as a locksmith finishes the job, the victim is charged a considerable amount more for unnecessary and sub-standard work.”ALOA has created a checklist for detecting a company that may be engaging in this scheme. “Many of the items in this checklist are legal by themselves,” adds Gibson. “However, if several are used together, you may be dealing with a con artist.”
Not Familiar with Your Area To make sure the company is local, make sure that they are familiar with your area of town.
“Boulder Locksmith Service.” Unscrupulous individuals often operate under many business names/aliases. Thus, they must answer the phone with a generic phrase like, “locksmith service.” If the call is answered this way, ask, “What is the legal name of your business”
ALOA Logo. Does the Yellow Pages ad contain a logo that makes them appear to belong to ALOA? While many locksmiths do belong to the Association, some unscrupulous individuals trick the consumer by falsely using the ALOA logo.You can always check to see if in fact these businesses are members by (800) 532-2562 or www.findalocksmith.com
Unclear Business Name. Look closely at the ad(s). Is the specific name of the business clearly identified? Does it appear that the dealer actually operates under several names? If a Web address is listed, does the name on the Web site match the name on the ad?
“Under Same Ownership.” This confusing statement, often found in small print at the bottom of a full-page ad in phone directories, give consumers a sense that the firm has been in business for awhile. The statement itself may be a warning sign that the company operates under several aliases. Also, the ad sometimes lists association memberships for organizations that do not exist, (i.e. American Locksmith Association).”
Service Vehicle. Some legitimate Boulder locksmiths will work out of a car or unmarked van for quick jobs, but most will arrive in a service vehicle – a van or truck that is clearly marked.
Identity. A legitimate Boulder locksmith should ask for identity and some form of proof that you have the authority to allow the unlocking to be done. You have the right to ask for the Boulder locksmith’s identification as well. Does he have a business card? Does he have an invoice or bill with the company name printed on it? Does it match the name on the service vehicle?
Estimate. Find out what the work will cost before you authorize it. Never sign a blank form authorizing work.
Invoice. Insist on an itemized invoice. You can’t dispute a charge without proof of how much you paid and what the payment was for .
Refuse. If you are not comfortable with the service provider, you can, and should, refuse to work with the locksmith.
If you feel that you have been the victim of a scheme as described above, ALOA recommends that you contact the office of the Colorado Attorney General. The Federal Trade Commission offers more information on this topic in this Consumer Alert.Established in 1979, City Lock is a full service locksmith serving the greater Boulder-Denver area. City Lock is also a long-time member of the ALOA.