Today Investigates: Shady Locksmiths Preying On The Vulnerable

In a lengthy segment on the Today Show, eight locksmiths were called by a producer posing as a customer who had locked herself out of her home. Before the segment, a legitimate and licensed local locksmith had installed a Kwikset deadbolt that could be picked in under a minute by a qualified locksmith. He estimated that the job should cost about $100.

Four of the eight turned out to be scammers, charging excessive fees and/or damaging or destroying the deadbolt lock. Rather than picking it, they drilled it out or attacked with a  crowbar. One guy even removed the entire doorknob with a wrench. Charges went as high as $600.

These locksmiths were selected from Internet ads promising 24-hour emergency service. It turned out that many of them listed fake addresses and were, in fact, telephone banks dispatching unlicensed workers posing as locksmiths. The national news show also showed listing after listing of scammer locksmiths online.

At the end of the segment, the Today show reporter and their legitimate locksmith suggested that consumers get the business card and phone number of a local, licensed locksmith ahead of time and program that number into their phones in case of emergency.

Watch the video at: