We recently heard from a consumer in Oak Park who had searched for our company on-line and thought she was calling us. Instead of us she reached someone who charged her over $400 for what should have been about a $125 job.
Turns out she found a website that is listing our business information. However, this site is not affiliated with us in any way. They do not have our permission to list our business. And they post a price list that is not ours. We have been told there is nothing we can do because everything they are printing about us is correct public information.
After researching this, we discovered at least one site that lists correct business information (address, phone number, hours, etc) for real locksmiths across the country. However, they put colorful buttons on the page next to the real locksmith's business listing. If you click on any of those buttons it takes you to a different company's page showing a different business name and phone number than the business you were trying to call. It also shows a very, very cheap price list. In the case listed above, the price charged the consumer was considerably more than those on that price list.
Here's how you can protect yourself:
- Try to find someone in your area.
- Click on the locksmith's website, be sure it belongs to the company you are looking for.
- Ask your neighbors for recommendations
- Read the reviews.
- When you call:
- Ask what the name of the business is. If it's not what you expected, hang up. (Do not accept “This is the locksmith” as a valid answer. Do not ask if this is “ABC Locksmith” because they will say Yes)
- Ask for the company's locksmith license number and write it down.
- Keep track of the phone number you called.
When any locksmith comes out to do work for you:
- Always ask to see the locksmith license or employee ID and write down the License or PERC number. In the state of Illinois, locksmiths are REQUIRED to present this information if asked.
- Always get a business card upon the service person's arrival.
- Always confirm all charges when the locksmith arrives and sees the job. Write it down.
- If anything doesn't feel right or they won't leave call the police.
- In the state of Illinois, locksmiths are REQUIRED to provide a receipt with:
- Company name
- Illinois License Number
Do you think you are a victim of this consumer fraud? To file a complaint you will need to be sure who you called. Get a business card, make sure your receipt is itemized and has the company name, address and phone number on it.
You can file a complaint with your state's Attorney General's Office. (Illinois Attorney's General Office) In Illinois, you can also file a complaint with the Illinois Dept. of Finance and Professional Regulation. In Chicago you can also file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Agency.