There several networks of scammers that are operating across the country as you read this. They flood the local yellow pages and internet search engines with advertisements using fictitious names and addresses what appear to be local telephone numbers. The phone numbers all roll over to call centers back east, many in the New York area. They give the impression that you are dealing with a local business, but in reality, they dispatch to a individual who may be as far as 60 to 80 miles from your location. None of these individuals is licensed or insured, an most have no formal locksmith training. Many are in the country illegally.

The scam goes like this. I will use the situation of a person locked out of their home or business as an example. They will quote what seems like a reasonable price over the phone, lets call it $45.00. When the so called locksmith arrives, he informs you that you have a high security lock and there will be additional charges because of this. The lock may need to be drilled to get you in. About this time it is disclosed that the $45.00 fee is only for the service call, and would not of covered the opening fee even if it was not a security lock. This nonsense continues until the scammer meets with anger from the client, which can take quite some time more often than not.

These scammers are far better trained as con men than they are as locksmiths. The name of the game is to inflate the invoice amount as high as they can. They are trained in intimidation tactics and capitalize on the fact that the client is helpless and has been waiting for sometimes an hour or more for them to show up and is not anxious to begin the process over again. To add insult to injury, they will often drill out a lock that could have easily been picked without damage by a skilled locksmith, and leave the client ripped off and with a destroyed lock that must then be replaced at yet additional cost. 

Some things you can do to to make sure you're not dealing with a scammer.

Listen for cues that you are speaking with a call center. Does the dispatcher speak like a local or does he or she seem disconnected? An example would be something like "are you in Benicia or Vallejo" vs " what is your zip code?"

Ask where they are located.  If you get an evasive answer like "we service your city" press for further details. Ask "in what city are you based?". Don't accept vague answers. Don't rule someone out just because they are a mobile service, there's nothing wrong with that, and there are many good mobile operations, but no business should be hesitant to disclose their specific base of operations.

Test their knowledge of the local area. Say for instance you are calling from downtown Benicia. You might say "I'm at 800 First Street, do you know where the Costco is?" If the dispatcher says "yes, I'll have someone there within the hour", you may want to tell them "thanks but no thanks". If they reply that "there is no Costco in Benicia, are you calling from Vallejo?" you could explain that you were just testing their knowledge of the local area.