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It was a dark and stormy night. When I dashed outside to check my car windows, the front door slammed shut behind me. Oh no! I was locked out.

If you’re locked out of your home or car, you may need to find a locksmith. As you search online, you’ll probably see multiple ads that appear to be for local businesses. In reality, some will actually connect you to call centers in another city. Operators in the far-off call centers may give surprisingly low estimates and dispatch poorly trained locksmiths. When the locksmiths show up, they say the job will cost much more than the estimate you were quoted and they insist you pay with cash. They hope you’ll be desperate enough to pay.

These FTC tips can help you find a reliable local locksmith. To start, before you hire anyone:

  • call and confirm the business name, address and total cost estimate for the job
  • get details about the locksmith’s license, registration and insurance

When the locksmith arrives, verify the information you got on the phone.

One more idea — consider finding a locksmith now, before you need one. Keep the company name and number in your smart phone or wallet ... just in case.

As for me, I was lucky. My neighbor keeps my spare house key — and she was home.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


VERY good info! Keep up the good work!

It is very helpful. Thank you for the tips.

I agree!

What recourse do I have if I was a victim to such a scam ? They told me they would charge $15 and then I was asked to pay $300 to open the lock.

You can contact your state Attorney General’s office and find out if locksmiths need to be licensed in your state. You can also report what happened to the Attorney General and your state and local consumer protection agencies.

Getting set up with a locksmith is something that's best done ahead of time as opposed to when you're stuck outside of your car or house and desperate. That way you're all set when the worst occurs.

I needed a locksmith recently. I looked online for a local locksmith. He has a mobile office. He did a FANTASTIC job. After opening up a 25+ years filing cabinet, he proceeded to oil the sliders so that it can last another 25 years or so. I was extremely happy with his affordable services.

Love your advice and articles keep up the good work

Earlier this year I was locked out on my home and called a locksmith listed in the telephone directory. The person who came out asked for more money than what I was quoted over the phone, and then said I could tip him if I was happy with the job. He stood waiting for the tip and I was afraid to say no since I female and here alone. I called the company back and complained about being charged so much for opening a simple door knob lock and was told that the locksmith could charge whatever he thought the job was worth. Initially when I called I thought it was the deadbolt lock that needed to be drilled and the quote was for that however it was the door handle lock that was the problem. A simple job but it took him forever and he did used a drill on it. He also wanted cash only for the job. Thank you for the information I will certainly be more cautious if I am ever locked out again.

For me, the days of locking myself out of my car or house are gone. My new car (with proximity key) won't allow me to lock my key in the car; not even in the trunk.

I installed a new keyless lock on my house front door. It now can accept a personal combination for each household member (or guest), or can accept a key.

These are two modern electronic features I'm loving.

Being a retired locksmith from when electronic locks were just coming out, Would like to say do not brag too much about not needing keys and touting the "wonerfulness" of electronic devices. Those lock run on internal batteries and when the battery dies, the lock will go into a fail safe condition meaning that it will stay locked unless you use a key to override the "keyless" function. That also applies to your car should the battery fail on that. I lost count of how many times people would have the battery fail. It also happens on " keyless " home security safes, but in that case the batteries are accessible from the outside of the safe and can be replaced. Also, don't go giving out the code to your house lock to friends. And if you have children , read them the riot act about bragging about the keyless lock while their friends watch them punch in the code to the lock. In regards to those locksmiths that are using call centers and then get sent out to rip you off. I never did that. When someone would ask me how much it would cost to do what they needed done, the price I quoted was the price they paid. I have been a consumer watchdog for a LOOOOOOOONNNNNNG time and I still am.

Richard: thank you for your professional insight. I know that one day the batteries will fail, which is why I keep track of the keys. For the house, I figure that the battery for the garage door opener and the front door battery will likely fail at different times, so for the house, I feel pretty safe for code entry. For my old 2002 Saturn, the original key fob still works. I still expect it to fail any day now for the first time.

Very good article and thank to information, we liked it.

Thank you! A very helpful tip to look for a locksmith before you need one and keep their information for future use.

How we should approach a locksmith locally?

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