Right now in the locksmith industry, this is exactly what is happening. There are a few companies that have placed some very professional looking ads in the yellow pages and especially in on-line searches of websites that are not legitimate companies. There have been many documented stings by media outlets all over the United States and Canada including one by Global Television. Please watch the videos below.
These companies originate in other parts of North America and even from other continents. They set up these ads and hire inexperienced and unlicensed people and call them locksmiths. When you call their number or enter your info on-line, you are actually calling Toronto, New York, Israel or any other city where they may be working from. This is almost impossible to stop as they can be anywhere and it is very hard to charge them. This problem is all over the United States and Canada and is reported in almost every city in these countries.
They then contact one of their “locksmiths” in your area and send them to your house. You are usually quoted a very small cost such as $29.00 or $35.00 for the service. When the “locksmith” arrives, he tells you he cannot open the lock and has to replace the locks and the cost goes up. Most times these costs now soar from $350.00 to $400.00 dollars and you are on the hook to pay this. Most locks can be easily opened or rekeyed by a legitimate locksmith. Legitimate locksmiths will never raise their quoted prices.
You can protect yourself from these scammers by doing a little due diligence. All locksmith companies and al individual locksmiths must have an Alberta registered security license. Always ask to see them. Do not just take their word that they say they have one. All legitimate locksmiths will show up in a marked van with the name of the company you called. If they show up in a car or minivan with windows and no markings, be suspicious.
Keep in mind that companies can say anything on their website and it may or may not be true, so do some checking. On one ad that I was looking at I noticed that they said they were with the Better Business Bureau and when I clicked on it, it went to the Ontario Better Business Bureau not Calgary. Always use a company that has been referred to you or that you know has been in business for a while in Calgary.
Always be aware if the company advertises cheap rates, such as $29.00 or $35.00. The larger locksmith companies will also have a real shop location, but I noticed that a lot of these scammer ads gave address location that were not legit just to make it look as if they were. One I checked out was located at a gas station. Others are in residential areas where no shop could possibly be located.