Locksmiths of America Unite

March 15, 2017

Scammers have been a locksmith problem for at least the last decade. Everyone reading this newsletter has more than likely noticed the overwhelming amount of locksmith business names which have flooded telephone directories and internet sites. In most localities the amount of area locksmith listings divided into the local population indicates that each locksmith is only supported by a few hundred inhabitants. Obviously there is not that much recurring business demand. The amount of locksmith listings belie the real number of actual locksmiths on call in a given area. Dozens of different locksmith business locations, each with different business names, are reportedly manned by a few central phone banks with one or two scammers travelling long distances to cover the entire phone bank area.

There have been several attempts to quell this scammer threat during the past few years. Some attempts have been mildly successful. But as one phone bank is extinguished, another appears to take its place. Most of the earlier scammer lawsuits were aimed at owners of the phone banks.

The real problem is with the providers such as internet giants Yahoo and Google who sell the display service where scammers can advertise. Until now companies such as Yahoo and Google have claimed the right of free speech.

A group of 14 indivudual locksmith company owners, representing diverse business areas extending from Maryland to California, have organized together with a lawsuit which names Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft (Bing) as defendants. The lawsuit alleges, "unlawful use of monopoly power plus false designation of origin of services." According to the lawsuit these three companies, Yahoo, Google and Bing, "control 90% of organic and map internet search originating in the United States." The lawsuit further states, "defendants knowingly and deliberately flood organic search results in response to queries such as 'locksmith' with scam locksmith listings they know do not exist at all. This has caused the plaintiffs to lose 30-60% of their gross income since 2009."

The plaintiffs are requesting among other things a cease and desist publishing order, three fold damages for plaintiff loses, payment for loss of good will, and payment of attorney fees and the cost of this action. The defendants are now asking that the case be dismissed.

Action taken by this plaintiff group should be commended. Every person involved in the locksmith field hopes that the Locksmith of America group is successful. The Locksmith Ledger April issue will be publishing an SHDA article by Arnie Goldman. His advice about building a successful locksmith business in spite of world happenings around us is important reading.