The keys to your home or car could be putting your property at risk as local scammers are coming up with ways to use your keys against you.
With the summer months upon us and more people spending time away from home, locksmiths say the number of calls for lost or stolen keys increases. Without them not only are you unable to get inside you may also be opening the door for criminal activity.
Whether it's on your car, business or home, locks play a key role in protecting what's important. That's why in situations where you lose them, or you get locked out, things can get quickly get stressful.
"When you get upset you can't think of the name of the locksmith," Gabbie Stanhope, President of Alpha Lock in Amarillo said.
But with dozens of options for locksmiths popping up online is there a way to know which ones are legitimate? As it turns out, finding a certified and licensed locksmith may be harder than expected. "We google everything and it's so easy for locksmith scammers to put their name on there, open a Facebook page, go to any free listing and boom they are a locksmith," Stanhope said.
Besides being required to carry a license, go through federal background checks and staying up to date on certifications, Stanhope says there are some key words in apparent companies names to look out for.
"24/7, Fast and Speedy, then there's Dependable, Affordable," she said.
Now it's not to say all locksmith companies with names like those are not certified. But being able to tell a scammer apart from a certified locksmith may take some research.
Janna Kiehl with the Better Business Bureau suggests doing a quick web search before making that call.
"You never know if you are going to have an issue later but if you do business with well reputable established companies that have a track record in the community that you've checked out, your chances are greater that you'll have a better experience," she said.
As for Stanhope, her biggest concern are those scammers who take your keys to make copies without you seeing what their doing.
"There have been circumstances where you would give the locksmith all of your keys, your entire key chain because you don't want to take the key off. But he's in your house and he takes the keys out to his truck, makes a copy of everything and now it's not that hard to find out what you own when you're sitting in front of someone's house," she said.
One way to prevent that from happening is going to a shop with an open work area so you can see the locksmith working.
Stanhope also suggests taking a moment to do some quick research on a company and putting the locksmith's number in your cell phone so if you get locked out you can quickly make a call to a company you know you can trust.