Next time you need a locksmith, keep this story in mind.
Some dishonest people have turned the business into a "get rich quick" scheme at your expense.
"Over the phone they would be quoted a price of around $50. Then after the locksmith showed up, they would get a story about how they had a unique lock or more difficult," said Dan Taylor, U.S. Postal Inspector.
Once the victims were let back in, they would be told the price would be several hundred dollars.
This price-gouging scheme is common. In this case, suspects created several bogus companies in the same city and advertised in the Yellow Pages.
"For instance, if there were 30 locksmiths in one area, they would make sure to have 15 mentioned in those Yellow Pages. This insured the odds that one of the suspect's companies would be contacted," said Taylor.
Postal inspectors started following up on hundreds of consumer complaints in dozens of different cities.
"Nationwide, there were thousands of victims and by following the money, we found the scammers made millions and millions of dollars."
"Anytime you are quoted something--even in an emergency service or not--you want to get that quote in writing. Because once that service is been done, you are vulnerable to price gouging."
Even if it doesn't feel like you lost a lot of money, report the crime.
"Whether it is BBB, local police, postal inspectors. Postal inspectors draw upon many different sources in order to build cases to learn how many victims there are," said Taylor. "However, if you don't report it, we have no way of knowing you are a victim in one of our cases."
The local Better Business Bureau suggests you actually find a locksmith in advance before you
need one in an emergency.
It's easy to do so at
http://wisconsin.bbb.org/ The BBB will verify
ownership and address that it is actually a local locksmith. You can check out
local businesses online by searching BBB online business directory and find out
if there are complaints filed against a business.
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