12 On Your Side: Out-of-state locksmiths using fake local addresses

By: Jerome Collins Email
By: Jerome Collins Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- If you have ever been locked out of your house or car, chances are, you picked a locksmith without giving it much thought. But by doing so, you could find yourself with more problems than you started with.

"We'll use a tool that goes in the window to separate the weather stripping. From then, I will go down in the door, grab the rod and unlock it that way," says Brian Briggs with Dixie Lock & Safe in Aiken.

He explained the procedure he would use to gain access to the inside of Candy Merryman's car.

Being locked out is not exactly the way Merryman had planned to start her day.

"I had locked my keys in my car when I was running into the store," says Merryman.

Unfortunately, it is not the first time, either.

"I locked my daughter in once when she was 3 years old, but luckily, the sunroof was open and we got a coat hanger and was able to get her out or I would have had to call a locksmith," says Merryman.

She called Dixie Lock & Safe, which got her into her vehicle safely.

But Briggs says not all locksmiths are cut from the same mold.

"If they get out the car and go straight to your car with a wedge to your window telling you that they are going to open it this way, that's probably the time to tell them to hold on," says Briggs.

But before you even need a locksmith, you should do your homework.

News 12 looked in the White Pages under locksmiths and found one listed at 1301 Greene Street, but when we arrived, we did not find a locksmith at all. We found the Sacred Heart Cultural Center. The staff there was surprised that their address was connected to an out-of-state locksmith.

Another ad for Global Emergency Locksmiths lists an address that is actually University Hospital.

So why are these companies using fake addresses? The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about out-of-state locksmiths who use in-state addresses and local drivers who may not be legit.

"Just being observant and paying attention to what they are doing and making sure they are talking to you," says Briggs. "And that they are not a fly-by-night operation just looking to make a fast buck."

Merryman says she is glad she picked a trusted locksmith like Dixie.

"I asked the people at the store who the best one was to call and they said they use Dixie Lock & Safe and that's who I called," says Merryman.

We want to clarify that Dixie Lock & Safe is a trustworthy locksmith and not a scammer. They were gracious enough to let us tag along with them for this story.

So what should you do before you need a locksmith?

Try to find one before you need one and if you cannot, make sure they show you they are licensed and insured. Also you want to make sure that the price you are quoted on the phone is the same price when they arrive.

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