5 Common Locksmith Scams to Avoid

locksmith scams

When calling a locksmith be prepared to avoid becoming a victim of a locksmith scam. Locksmith scams are common and happen every day due to a lack of industry regulation.

Security Industry Legislation

In September 2021 the issue of locksmith regulation was debated in parliament. Mark Pawsey, MP for Rugby and Bulkington, urged the Government to consider amending the Private Security Industry Act 2001 or introduce new legislation to protect consumers by requiring all locksmiths to be licensed.

Until changes are made great caution is required when choosing a locksmith. A large percentage of people are unaware of the risks involved and many people get caught out on a daily basis.

Top 5 Locksmith Scams To Avoid

If you want to find our how to know if a locksmith is a scam look out for these telling tricks. These are the most common scams locksmiths use to take advantage of naive customers;

  1. Bait and switch
  2. Cheap lock installation at a high price
  3. Destroying a lock when it is not necessary
  4. Taking a UPVC mechanism away
  5. Claiming to be “police approved”

Here we explain how these scams work and how to avoid falling prey to dishonest fake locksmiths.

1) Bait and Switch

The most common locksmith trap is to quote a “low call out charge” sometimes £59 or even £39. This catches the customer’s attention and they opt for what seems to be the cheapest option. What the customer doesn’t realise is that this unrealistic cost is simply to attend the property and the price will go up and up by an undetermined amount as the job progresses. In reality, there should be no cost to attend and quote for a job, a customer should only pay for work completed.

If a customer really believes a job can be completed for £59 unfortunately they are being naive. Realistically this would not come close to even covering basic operating costs.

Would you fall for this cheap locksmith trick as so many do? At IKS we always quote a fixed price, so that customers know what they can expect to pay on completion of the job, with no surprises.

Cheap Locksmith London
Image Courtesy of katemangostar

2) Cheap Lock Installation

Customers often don’t know the cost of a lock and which lock brands are high quality or low quality. This is something that unscrupulous locksmiths take advantage of. If a locksmith is installing a Versa budget lock, you will be paying for a low quality lock. It is common for customers to be overcharged for low quality locks.

Often, high quality locks are even destroyed unnecessarily and replaced with low quality locks.

If you choose a dishonest locksmith because they seem cheap you can expect to get a rubbish lock and pay over the odds. At IKS we install only high quality locks in range of price points to provide the customer good value options to suit a range of budgets. Suitable locks can be high security or basic but they must never be poor quality.

night latch lock installation
High Quality British Standard Lock

3) Destructive Entry – When it is not necessary

This is common dishonest locksmith practice and it happens all the time because they know they can get away with it. There are no laws, that we are aware of, to protect the customer.

A common locksmith trick, when customers are locked out, is to destroy a lock when it is really not necessary and to then fit a cheap low quality lock and charge a ridiculously over inflated price for entry, the lock and a call out charge. IKS Locksmiths aim to avoid destructive entry and find the most economical solution for the customer in the circumstances.

4) Taking a UPVC Mechanism Away

Another rogue locksmith trick is related to UPVC mechanism repair. They use the bait and switch method to secure a job. They remove and take away the UPVC mechanism. Then quote a ridiculously high price for repair and use intimidation to secure the funds. The customer often decides to call another locksmith at this point due to feeling ripped off and scared for their safety. They know that the fact that the UPVC mechanism has been taken away would cause another locksmith a problem with finding the correct replacement mechanism for the job not having all the required information. So essentially they are holding the customers mechanism for ransom. At IKS we would never take a UPVC mechanism away as it is not necessary, instead we take the necessary measurements and order the part.

upvc door lock

5) Police Approved Locksmith

If a locksmith advertises claiming to be “police approved” this should set alarm bells ringing. This is a dishonest claim commonly used by locksmiths in Google Ads, and on their websites, aimed at luring customers into a false sense of security.

The police do not endorse individual locksmith companies. It is false advertising. They do use and recommend using locksmiths approved by the Master Locksmiths Association. They don’t promote, endorse or approve individual locksmith companies. Despite being MLA approved IKS does not advertise as being police approved.

MLA approved trusted locksmith

Fake Locksmith Receipt

This is a good example of a London locksmith overcharging and using a combination of the locksmith scam tactics we have mentioned above.

Note the charge for;

  • £169 for destructive entry,
  • £149 for a lock (which was quite likely a poor quality lock)
  • £66 labour charge
  • £89 to adjust the front door
  • £59 call out charge

A total cost of £642 for a job that could have cost between £90 and £200 depending on the circumstances.

locksmith cost

As standard we would quote; A fixed labour charge (which is higher out of hours) + parts +vat

We would not charge;

  • An additional call out charge to assess the job – this service should be included in the labour charge
  • Extra to adjust the doorthis should be included in a fixed labour charge
  • Such a high price for a lock – and we charge less and always fit a high quality lock

Always Get a Fixed Price Before Agreeing to Go Ahead!

A customer should always know what they will be expected to pay before agreeing to go ahead with the job. There should be no surprises on completion of the job. If there are you have been ripped off!

How Much Should This Locksmith Job Cost?

If the lock really did need to be destroyed this job should have cost between £90 and £120 for labour (depending on the time of day) and between £75 and £120 for a high quality lock.

If the lock did not need to be destroyed the job would have cost the customer the labour charge alone.

In short, this customer has been seriously ripped off by a dishonest locksmith. Something that happens all the time due to the lack of legislation to protect customers.

Aggressive and Intimidating Locksmiths

It is also common for dishonest locksmiths to be aggressive and intimidating. Exactly the type of people you wouldn’t want to deal with your home security. We often have calls from customers who have just been scammed by locksmith asking what they can do after being ripped off and saying they are fearful for their safety.

Finding a Reliable Locksmith in Your Area

It is easy to find a reliable locksmith in your area by searching on the Master Locksmiths Association website using your postcode. Read more about why it is important to choose an MLA locksmith here.

What to Look For in a Locksmith

The Locksmith industry is unregulated and there a lots of scammers operating, especially in London. Always check a locksmith is;

Avoid calling a fake locksmith or a dishonest locksmith if you value your security and safety.

London Locksmith Approved by The Master Locksmiths Association

If you need a locksmith in London or Hertfordshire we can help. Call us for professional security advice and a realistic, competitive quote.

How can we help you?

For professional security advice and information call to speak directly to Martin, our Master Locksmith and security specialist.

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Master Locksmiths Association

Master Locksmiths Association



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  • IKS Locksmiths Ltd
    Unit E2,
    Queens Rd,
    Barnet EN5 4DJ
  • Our Totteridge Address:
    IKS Locksmiths Ltd
    44 Greenway
    North London
    N20 8ED
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