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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > August 2016 > Beware: Searching for 'Local' Locksmiths May Lead to Faraway Call Centers

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Beware: Searching for 'Local' Locksmiths May Lead to Faraway Call Centers

When consumers search for a locksmith, it is often when they need help in a crisis, such as being locked out of their own home or car. In a frantic search, they may not have the time, resources, or energy to thoroughly research a company’s reputation. But a little bit of checking may pay off, because some “local” locksmith ads actually lead to an out-of-area call center.
In one case, a Portland-area operation advertised under a variety of Ohio-sounding names, such as “” and “” When consumers called the phone numbers listed on the sites, however, their calls were transferred to an out-of-state call center, which then sent a referral to a contracted individual locksmith or locksmith company located in the community where the consumer lived.
Also, while consumers often were told the cost of picking the lock would be $19, the actual price regularly turned out to be much higher, according to a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office against the operation. The lawsuit accused the defendants of misleading Ohio consumers and engaging in bait-and-switch practices.
To avoid locksmith problems, take steps to protect yourself, such as:
  • Find a reputable locksmith before you need one. Ask family and friends for recommendations. Check for any complaints with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau.
  • Be cautious of online ads for locksmiths. Research multiple businesses rather than selecting the first service you find online, and read online reviews of the company. Even if the locksmith uses a local-sounding website and phone number, don’t assume the company is based locally.
  • Be wary of businesses that operate under multiple business names. They could be using multiple names to hide unsatisfactory business practices from consumers.
  • When a locksmith arrives at your home or vehicle, check the representative’s identification. Be wary if the locksmith arrives in an unmarked car or has no official identification.
  • Be skeptical if a locksmith says the only way to open the lock is to break it. Most skilled locksmiths can open locks without destroying them. Plus, breaking the lock could damage your property and result in much higher costs.
  • Get an estimate from the company prior to having any work performed. 
To report a scam or unfair business practice, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by visiting  or calling 800-282-0515.