Google Maps Spam

There are zillions of locksmiths in New York City.

Not really; this is the latest attempt by phony locksmiths to steer business to themselves:

This is one of the scary parts they have a near monopoly on the cell phone 411 system. They have filled the data bases with so many phony address listings in most major citys that when you call 411 on your cell phone ( which most people do now) you will get the same counterfiet locksmiths over and over again. you could ask for 10 listings and they will all be one of these scammers or another with some local adress that is phony. they use thousands of different names also. It is always the same 55.00 service qouted for a lockout and after they unlock your stuff the price goes much higher. These companys are really not in the rural areas but the are in just about all major citys from coast to coast and from top to bottom. [sic]

More here:

Google wasn't their first target. The "blackhats" in the industry have used whatever marketing vehicle was "au courant," whether it was the phone books, 411 or now Google and Yahoo.

Here is a BBB alert from 2007, BBB Warns Consumers of Nationwide Locksmith Swindle and a recent ABC news article and video. The Associated Locksmiths of America provides a list of over 110 news reports over the past several years from across the nation detailing the abuses. As you can see, consumers have paid the price of these many scams with high prices, rip-off installs and even theft.

Posted on March 11, 2009 at 12:38 PM

Comments

wiredogMarch 11, 2009 1:14 PM

Which is why I
A) Keep a spare key in the wallet and
B) Have AAA in case I lock the wallet in the car, too.

GoatRiderMarch 11, 2009 1:32 PM

Anybody have any ideas how to find a reputable locksmith in an emergency?

Rick AuricchioMarch 11, 2009 1:37 PM

"After they unlock your stuff the price goes much higher."

How? Once your door is open, what will they do? Beat you up and take more money?

ax0nMarch 11, 2009 1:40 PM

AAA is a good bet for automotive lockouts. They have a whitelist of known professional lockout services. You know, just in case you also locked your lockpicks in your car, too. :P

This is part of why I got interested in locksport and made several sets of lock picks. It's not illegal to make, buy or own them. It's not even illegal to carry them in many places. It's just illegal to use them without consent.

No, I don't carry them wherever I go, but I have a set at the office, a set hidden in the car, and a few at home as well, so I can usually get to them.

anonMarch 11, 2009 1:56 PM

Small case, strong magnet, attached OUTSIDE car.

People, visit a hardware store. They sell these things.

Franklin W. DixonMarch 11, 2009 2:02 PM

@anon: Having your keys attached to your car in a "hidden" location? Security through obscurity?

IanMarch 11, 2009 2:06 PM

I actually got taken by one of these guys. I was quoted $45 on the phone, and I'd rather not admit how much they got me for.

Getting locked out sucks, especially when your fiancée's been working hard all day and you just want to get it taken care of before she gets home. In my case, it wasn't a matter of lost keys; my deadbolt physically broke such that turning the key in the cylinder didn't move the deadbolt at all. It had to be drilled.

I knew the guy wasn't on the up and up, but what was I supposed to do? It was 9 at night and I'd already waited a couple hours for him to show up. If I didn't get him to open the door, who knows how long it would take me to get someone else, never mind whether that new person would be any more reputable.

Mike BlumenthalMarch 11, 2009 2:07 PM

@Rick

re "After they unlock your stuff the price goes much higher."

Apparently, from what I understand, they actually break the lock as opposed to pick it and then inform you that the job is more costly than quoted on the phone.

Mike

Angel oneMarch 11, 2009 2:26 PM

This looks like much ado about very little.

The "under the holly tree blog" seems very concerned about these "fake" locksmiths, but what exactly makes them fake? I think he just doesn't like competition that isn't a part of his professional organization. It's the usual protectionist line that comes from any entity that fears change as a loss of business.

Now it's true that this/these people are employing a somewhat creative method of Google spam, but is that really any different from the countless spam bots that spam blogs and forums in an attempt to increase their websites search ranking?

matt aMarch 11, 2009 2:34 PM

Yeah, I got scammed by one of those guys as well, but I got even. I gave him my neighbor's address...

RHMarch 11, 2009 2:37 PM

@angel one:
well, I looked at google maps, and even google is concerned.
There is a definition of a "fake" locksmith, which is that they don't have certification from any of the major locksmith guilds (I only know of one, but there may be more).

A "fake locksmith" is about as reputable as hiring the kid down the street to take a sledge to your door for you.

This is a good thing, IMHO. Lately we've been getting more and more information, with fewer tools to filter it. Scams like this will spawn innovation to solve these problems.

hereIamMarch 11, 2009 3:31 PM

Just look for the one with the non-800 number? Ignore the 866 or 800 numbers? Does that avoid the bad ones?

A nonny bunnyMarch 11, 2009 3:53 PM

@GoatRider
"Anybody have any ideas how to find a reputable locksmith in an emergency?"

Call your local police station and ask them? (Maybe they can even spare you a burglar, if they haven't a list of legitimate locksmiths ;)
For America, http://www.aloa.org/ has a link for finding a locksmith. And if you can't trust the locksmith association, who can you trust? For other countries I image there are similar associations with helpful websites.

RoyMarch 11, 2009 4:12 PM

How do you find a reputable locksmith in an emergency? Start looking now, so you'll be ready when you need one.

'A nonny bunny' said to call your local police. I'd say go visit them, bring donuts or cookies, and talk to them nicely, asking who they would call in an emergency. (Phone operators don't know what cops know.) Also visit the state troopers and the county marshal/sheriff office.

AndrewMarch 11, 2009 5:13 PM

Build a relationship with your local lock shop, well in advance. If they don't provide emergency services, they will provide a referral to a reliable competitor who does.

Any idiot can drill or destroy a lock. (The technical term for someone who attacks the door frame is "vandal.") Forcible entry techniques are used by firefighters in a life-saving hurry, not locksmiths of any kind.

A professional locksmith can bump or pick most locks for you in minutes with the tools on her belt, or make a standard key in less than half an hour for far less than these scammers charge. (Automobile locks get harder each year; that is a subject that Bruce should get into, as there is a 3-way arms race between manufacturers, independent locksmiths and auto thieves.)

Warning: possession of picks in an unsavory context is often considered burglar's tools. Your mileage will vary if you carry picks in your car or on your person . . . but then again, this is true of someone carrying a baseball bat or a kitchen knife, too.

Philip KizerMarch 11, 2009 5:15 PM

While driving around on errands this weekend, my partner and I were just discussing spam of this sort, though we were headed in a slightly different direction:

Since there is already Spam (duh), SPIM (Spam over IM), SPIT (Spam over Internet Telepohony), she pondered what would be called Spooge to which I immediately responded that it has to be Spam Over Google Earth (thinking of Panoramio, Youtube and other 3rd-party posting options).

stephenMarch 11, 2009 5:46 PM

I don't doubt the locksmith scams are real, and the google maps bomb is interesting, but the blogspot user cited above does not come across as the most trustworthy source. She announces herself as a pro-Palestine blogger and spends much of the article stressing that these locksmith scams are Israeli-run.

It puts a sour taste in my mouth when ethnic grudges taint unrelated discussions.

Adrian LopezMarch 11, 2009 6:29 PM

"This looks like much ado about very little."

I think not. If you watch the ABC report you'll notice the trick is to give a low estimate and then overcharge once the job is done. Because they spam the phone book / Google / etc., it is statistically unlikely that you'll find a locksmith who is not out to fleece you.

Tom ComeauMarch 11, 2009 6:50 PM

I live in the Maryland suburbs, and did the same search. Apparently locksmiths also like empty fields, parks, and lakes.

Great, now I have no idea how to find a locksmith.

tc>

ericMarch 11, 2009 7:02 PM

>Apparently locksmiths also like empty fields, parks, and lakes.

Ooh, beware the watery tarts dispensing swords.

SamMarch 11, 2009 8:30 PM

It bothers me that the Holly Tree blog seems more concerned with co-opting a legitimate scam story and turning it into an anti-Israel propaganda piece. The ALOA article he references makes no mention of Israel, yet this guy can't stop mentioning it.

FreiheitMarch 11, 2009 10:01 PM

Fake locksmith: $45+$lots+shame+victimization

Visit to hardware store: Midrange lock/deadbolt $75, big hammer $15, big screw driver $10

Its kind of a wash either way really.

If you're using something better than big-box hardware store commodity locks you probably already know a good locksmith.

RobinMarch 12, 2009 1:55 AM

Well maybe because all the phony locksmith scammers are from Israel. Like I said over on Blumenthalls, there are Nigerian internet scammers. I guess saying they are Nigerian is a anti-Nigeria rant. Guess saying the Russian Mafia is a an anti-Russian rant, Italian Mafia an anti-Italy rant, Armenian Mafia an anti-Armenia rant, Chinese Mafia an anti-China rant, Columbian drug cartel and anti-Columbian rant,
Care to add any more you yourselves aren't afraid to say any old day?

RonKMarch 12, 2009 2:25 AM

@Robin

> because all the phony locksmith scammers are from Israel.

Wow, that's interesting information. What size sample did you investigate, and what experimental method did you use to find out the country of origin of the locksmith scammer?

NostromoMarch 12, 2009 2:32 AM

"A professional locksmith can bump or pick most locks for you in minutes"

Make that seconds, not minutes. If you think it's minutes, then you haven't seen a real pro. I guess it must be true that the scammers have made it next to impossible to find a good locksmith.

wkwillisMarch 12, 2009 3:14 AM

Is it racist to say that twentyfive years ago most donut shop operators in California urban areas were Cambodian?
Israeli crooks learn from each other, just like Cambodian cooks learn from each other. You look for a line of work and find someone in that line to clue you in.
Could have been Israeli check forgers, Israeli hedge fund operators, Israeli car thieves, etc. The scumbags just happened to pick locksmithing instead of something else.

WooMarch 12, 2009 3:22 AM

Seems this problem is the same all around the world.. and I really wonder why it's always locksmiths. Looking at our local Yellow Pages, I see five locksmiths listed for every tiny village, fighting for top place with names like AAA111 Lock Services etc., and all having local phone numbers differing only by the last one or two digits, which means it's probably only one PBX line, all ending up at the same company. I see no other business branch do a similar spam around here. Why locksmiths? Do people really lose their keys so many times that it justifies the effort and dis-reputation it brings?
(I especially wonder about our little town here in .de, as there's three or four decades-old well-known hardware stores offering locksmith services, making real competition almost impossible.)

RonKMarch 12, 2009 4:32 AM

@ wkwillis

> Is it racist to say that twentyfive years ago most
> donut shop operators in California urban areas
> were Cambodian?

No, but it might be interesting to understand why you would claim that. How many donut shops were investigated (and how many were there in total in California at the time), and how did the investigators find out that the operator was Cambodian? Were the shops all in one area of California or were their locations randomized in some way?

A lot of "facts" get generated by the brain innocently finding order in scant anecdotal evidence, when the truth is otherwise. And this is even before we start to talk about how psychological bias might affect one's perceptions.

MatMarch 12, 2009 7:36 AM

@Robin:
"Well maybe because all the phony locksmith scammers are from Israel."

No, they aren't.

@wkwillis
"Is it racist to say that twentyfive years ago most donut shop operators in California urban areas were Cambodian?"

No, not at all. Just like it's not racist to say that all the Dunkin Donuts locations I've visited in the West suburbs of Chicago are owned and operated by Indians. However, to claim that a ring of fraudulent locksmiths is operated by a cabal of Israelis with nothing to support this claim makes everything you say highly dubious. It also highlights your obvious distaste for Israelis.

sooth sayerMarch 12, 2009 9:22 AM

As long it's free to enter info. into a DB -- you will have crooks exploiting it.

Google and others should either start asking for money or should start sending verification teams to check the voracity of "a name/person and address"

Yahoo used to hand compile it's directories -- before "cheaper" bot technology came along -- they still have a slightly more usable directory than google.

TomMarch 12, 2009 9:38 AM


@Ian: Break into your home. Homes are rarely well secured. Go in through another door, a window, the garage, whatever. Unscrew the two screws holding the lock into place. (They are supposed to be on the inside.) Pull the two halves of the lock apart (one on the inside, one on the outside). Now you can pull the deadbolt out. A replacement lock can be had from any hardware store for $20 or so. Installation is two screws and 5 minutes. The only difficulty is getting the parts to line up as it goes together. Sure, it's not a quality lock. But it's adequate for the task... You can always replace it with something better later on.

In the worst case scenario, buy a drill at the hardware store and drill the damn lock yourself. Again, quite cheap to do. Or borrow tools from a neighbor...

paulMarch 12, 2009 10:45 AM

@Woo:

Phony locksmith businesses are profitable a) because each incident yields a huge profit and b) because the cost of operation is tiny. You pay for the listing, the phone numbers (which you can probably use for other criminal enterprises as well) and a cordless drill and some cheap replacement locks. When a call comes in, you take a break from whatever other stuff you're perpetrating and drive off to fleece some poor loser. After you're done, you return to your regular pursuits a couple hundred dollars richer.

RobinMarch 12, 2009 11:21 AM

All the 800,866 etc numbers in all cities go directly to phone banks in New York, one or two in Florida, only less than a handful of actual controlling companies. They then call their mobile agents who have been trained for ONE week (as opposed to licensed locksmiths who do long apprenticeships) and sent out in the field in all the major cities. Then the "locksmiths" show up for the job, jack up the price. They make out money orders to send back to Dependable, Bassad and the others as their invoice receipts and are able to make their living on the difference between what they owe to their "employers" and how much they were able to jack it up. How do I know this? Let's just say I know it from a source.

Dependable is the biggest, but they have spammed all the listings with literally hundreds of different names, but it is ALL the same hand full of companies.

They hire only Israelis that they put up message boards in Israel for. Same with Bassad. Same with the one in Florida.

In Europe and Russia where the Jewish people were restricted to certain trades for centuries, locksmithing was an art and trade. RESPECTABLE, these con-artists are not, just like other RESPECTABLE current Jewish locksmiths (again a trade passed down by tradition)
are not scam artists. It's really very simple, several bad apples control and they lure young Israeli men over here who for the most part are unsuspecting.
Once they get here they then have to deal with trying not to get caught because district attorney's offices nation wide are wising up.

andyinsdcaMarch 12, 2009 12:14 PM

The bigger issue is that this calls into question the reliability of Google maps (or whatever) as a method to find a locksmith or other service. Google has a vested interest in making the data reliable (with reliable providers), because if their data is shite, then people won't use it.

benji March 12, 2009 12:59 PM

Use Yelp to find real locksmiths. Ones with lots of reviews are generally reputable, Yelp is a bit harder to scam

RobinMarch 12, 2009 1:13 PM

Here in CA the Department of Consumer Affairs very recently concluded an agreement with the Public Utilities Commission. They are currently working with BELL telephone to pull all the phony listings (in their phone books as well as internet sight) because the PUC here in CA has the power to demand this. This is going to grow to other telephone companies and search engines like internet yellow pages which is a major source of the listings. Somehow sooner or later someone needs to connect with Google on this also.

One thing you need to know on this, since this profession has been permeated with scam artists, you HAVE to check out their business licenses. I know, it's not time you want to take, you would like to think if it's advertised it's ok, but that is NOT the case here. Each state has a department of consumer affairs. Get the business license number from ANY locksmith you plan on using then either go on the DCA website to check it out or call. Believe me, here in CA it is now illegal to not post your license number but do NOT trust it just because it is given, CHECK IT OUT. Several of the "locksmiths" listed in CA do put up license numbers but upon checking you find they are phony.

I realize something major needs to be done, but this is what you as individuals can do to protect yourselves NOW and to spread the word to others until the powers that be catch up and do what they need to do to put them out of business.

If you reside in CA and find phony ones, make a list, then call your local DA's office to report. Since the DCA and the PUC are just recently on to this, there is legislation in place now where they can be heavily heavily fined.

http://www.bsis.ca.gov/forms_pubs/locksmith_fact.shtml

http://www.bsis.ca.gov/industries_regulated/locksmith_act_revise.shtml

Other states if they have not done this need to!

AndrewMarch 12, 2009 3:19 PM

I said "A professional locksmith can bump or pick most locks for you in minutes"

Nostromo says: >> Make that seconds, not minutes. If you think it's minutes, then you haven't seen a real pro. I guess it must be true that the scammers have made it next to impossible to find a good locksmith.

I don't use Schlage unless it's Primus. I heartily recommend Medeco for TRUSTED employees (pain to pick, easy to copy). Kwikset is a pricey door latch, not a lock.

I agree that an expert can pick a consumer Schlage or Kwikset in less than a minute.

If you know anyone who can pick a Primus or Medeco in seconds, let me know. Better yet, send them up to Langley where their talents can be best appreciated.

SteveJMarch 12, 2009 3:25 PM

This would have prevented the Sarah Palin webmail hack:

"Forgotten your password? Send us $45, and two hours later a guy in a truck will show up with a lump hammer, smash your PC, and charge you another $200."

SteveJMarch 12, 2009 3:33 PM

@Andrew: What kind of Medeco lock? There are plenty of videos on YouTube, but of course they benefit from (a) selection bias, and (b) practising on a particular lock before filming, rather that starting from scratch on an unfamiliar example of a known make and model.

RobinMarch 12, 2009 4:35 PM

"If you know anyone who can pick a Primus or Medeco in seconds, let me know. Better yet, send them up to Langley where their talents can be best appreciated."

Well gee, all I had to do was google "how to pic a Primus or Medico lock" and easily came up with this

http://www.libertyreferences.com/picking-new-high-security-door-locks.shtml

let's go to the home page:

http://www.libertyreferences.com/

The Lock Picking section is a controversial one. We maintain it here because we know that most bad guys don't pick locks -- they use crowbars.

It's amazing what naive thinking you can find on the internet. Yep, all those crow bar lock pickers won't be interested one darn bit now will they?

AnonymousMarch 12, 2009 6:16 PM

@RonK
> A lot of "facts" get generated by the brain innocently finding order in scant anecdotal
> evidence, when the truth is otherwise. And this is even before we start to talk about
> how psychological bias might affect one's perceptions.

I've found that every justification of bigotry or racism that I've encountered relies on simple innumeracy. Kind of interesting to think that bad math skills might be a root cause of most of the hatred in the world. Though, I suppose it is more likely that innumeracy is simply a means of rationalization, not an actual cause.

AndrewMarch 12, 2009 8:08 PM

An interested layperson can teach themselves elementary lockpicking with a few Internet references, a few sample locks and some easily obtainable tools. This causes great pain to the locksmith industry, which relies heavily on security through obscurity.

This is the approximate skill level of these pseudo-professionals who overcharge for poor work. This is also true of the vast majority of "professional" criminals who graduate from the crowbar level.

Lock manufacturers who label absolute trash as "high security" must share some of the blame.

To pick a Medeco, one must already be skilled at racking and tensioning, comfortable at making one's own tools, and (most rare) get enough time in front of one to practice. Unless one is already good at picking conventional locks and has been in the habit of collecting high-security locks for a while, getting through a Medeco will not be easy or quick. Primus is harder. Even copying a Primus key is non-trivial.

I stand by my opinion that speed in picking a conventional lock is a good way to tell the difference between a real locksmith and an amateur or scam artist. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locksport and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lock_picking

AndrewMarch 12, 2009 8:36 PM

@SteveJ: I'm not a locksmith (and thus, not a shill for Medeco). Lock selection depends on your particular application. Your local lock shop can set you up with 'restricted' locks that will slow down the average picker and resist easy duplication. The easiest of these to get in the USA are Medeco and Schlage Primus, which is why I mentioned them.

Here's a summary which is not bad: https://securitysnobs.com/Choosing-A-Brand.html

Notice that they DO NOT recommend Medeco.

If your needs and your budget are both high, or you are keying a building, it's worth paying more for expert advice. It is a sad thing, for example, to see a high security lock on a low grade door with a window.

Any lock is a compromise between the trinity of cost, usability and security.

See http://www.medeco.com/products/products_detail_section_i.php?section_ID=1&category_ID=1&clear=& and http://www.mul-t-lockusa.com/newsdetails.asp?newsid=58 for typical puffery. Take all manufacturer claims with several grains of salt, just as in the IT business. Then see: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.02/lockbusters.html

BillMarch 13, 2009 8:46 AM

To find a local locksmith check the three number prefix local to your area most of the scamers don't have local exchanges. Check out the addresses most of them are fictious and they don't have ad's just the free listings. Get to your local legistators to try and stop these scamers have them licensed, ask for their license if they don't produce one call the local police department and refuse service and don't pay them. Buyer beware if they don't come in a marked vehicle of their company they will posibily rip you off get an exact price befor they touch anything, and don't pay for extras.

PeterMarch 17, 2009 7:54 AM

I live in a small town and have had the need for a locksmith a few times over the years. I always use the same guy. I know of three guys in town. The Google search listed about 8. I have never heard of the other 5. They have addresses in town, but I don't ever recall seeing their signs or trucks there. A couple are listed in residential areas. This is a *really* small town. Apparently this is a real problem.

Best suggestion is to go with a recommendation from the police dept or someone at a local hardware store. If it's for your car, ask your mechanic who he uses. Know who to call *before* you need them.

Mike.March 18, 2009 2:41 PM

The Locksmith scammers are very real and they pose a serious threat to the publics wallet.

The scam locksmiths from what I have seen are uneducated as locksmiths. They do not pick locks because they dont know how, that is why they drill the locks and at the same time upcharge you for their stupidity.

THis is happening in the flower business, towing, moving, and possibly other industrys.

The locksmith Industry seems to be the gold mine that they are curreently STRIPMINING.

In regards to Israelis being behind all or most of this. It appears to be true.

With that said I want all the RACE baiters to take a breath and then hold it.

For one to say that this problem is being perpetrated bt Israelis is not racist, antisemetic or anything else.

It appears to be the truth. Is this organized crime? I think so.

So instead of being mad at the ones who have pointed out that these companies are Israeli, be mad at the Israeli companies that are running around and ripping off american consumers and destrying the Image of locksmiths across the nation.

This is not about race, religion, or hatred of a nationality. It is about scammers.

Why most if not all are Israeli is a good question. Mabey someone can post a good answer.

WHat they are doing is wromg, Illegal, unetical, and down right evil when they force a senior citizen like RAY Miller of streamwood IL to pay 1709.00 to have his door drilled open to let him in.

Ray MIller is not a lone example. There are many more that have been ripped of and they are others to proud to even come forward.

Women and the elderly seem to be the ones they rip off the easiest. I guess they give in easier than others.

I know when people go to call the police these duys leave in a hurry.

You can even see it when they get caught on camera, for some reason they forget to get paid in their rush to leave. I know if I did a job I would get paid. BUt it is obvious they have something to run from.

Phoenix LocksmithApril 6, 2009 6:45 PM

It seems to me that unless Google decides to clean up the index, there is little to be done. Perhaps, as Dave O noted to me, they should just not show Locksmith results in the Universal Local results until they can figure it out (if ever). Talk about slander and sleeze? Each geographical area has a LEGITIMATE locksmith legally registered trade union. These people have business licenses and train their locksmiths in apprenticeships for a year or more. A TRADE that has been around for hundreds of years and is well respected. It is these scam artists that DO happen to all be Israelis who have given legitimate locksmiths a bad name. What these criminal organizations, and all other un-ethical business practices occurring in that industry, by anyone of any religious/national/political/racial background, are doing is wrong and needs to be cleaned up. If you want to be a voice for that change stop screaming ISRAELI, ISRAELI, ISRAELI and just cut to the facts that matter. Berry Network, Inc., Berry Network is an integrated media agency specializing in local/national search engine optimization, 3rd screen marketing, IPTV and internet/print directory services. BNI has in-depth knowledge about the consumer buying patterns of tomorrow via its access to the largest consumer buyer database in the world. In the case of Google there is a very simple step that they could do that they are already set up to handle: Require Post Card validation of any listing in the categories related to locksmithing. However, do not require that the address be posted in the ad itself.

Glenn YApril 14, 2009 6:18 PM

Locksmith Scammers/map spammers; Things we do know:

There are 14-15 different web page templates that the thousands of listings all point to.

Changes that maximize the SEO results are made with great speed.

All of the ones who have been specifically identified, arrested or detained for questioning have been Israeli with tourist or student visa's

People from different industries like florist map spamers, fraudulent fire system inspectors and the well known locksmith scammers who have been arrested or detained have given their employer as "Amdocs".

An Amdocs conection would explain a lot.

Time to wake up and smell the refried beans. We need investagation with the authority to find who really is behind this. IMHO, GY

Jim May 12, 2009 4:29 AM

Yellow pages is selling google map spam ? It looks like they are listing up to 5 or more listing for their customers, When google puts effot into stopping map spam , Why did they allow yellow pages to do this ? they have teamed up with yellow pages , and not the map service is 80% paid spam , It has made google map service useless, Why o why did they allow their map service to end up like this after all the hard work of the end user to keep it good

JBMay 12, 2009 10:36 AM

The blog quoted in the original post, and many of the comments, have very poor punctuation and understanding of how to use apostrophes.

Following the heuristic of not considering the opinions of people who can't write makes the thread, and the Israeli part of it, much easier to follow and comprehend.

Anne RandomJuly 9, 2009 11:30 AM

I don't see a problem here. This is the free market doing what it does best. Provide a useful service at a good price. I like how you overlook the fact that from coast to coast, top to bottom, it is TRIVIALLY EASY to get a locksmith. Do you think these guys should sit around all day and not advertise in order to try to make money?

ThirdGenLocksmithJuly 9, 2009 1:23 PM

I am a third generation locksmith, and this article is very frightening to me, as I imagine it would be to my deceased Grandfather, a master locksmith before his passing. Locksmiths rely on several things, but the most important of these is 'the public trust'. We come to people's homes, defeat the security that they use to give them easier rest at night, and open/repair the issue or lock at hand. My job is to reassure these people that when I leave, they are still safe. I'm not there just to 'open the door'. This problem has the potential to have a domino effect on the rest of the industry by causing people to lose their trust in locksmiths. My family has been in this business since the 1930's, I personally have been a locksmith in training since the age of 14. I say 'in training' since all of us are: new locks are always being designed and brought to market.

So how do you, the customer, find a reputable locksmith in your area? First, call them during regular business hours, find their location, and visit them there. Have some keys cut, and make sure they work. Ask them questions, such as how long they have been a locksmith, how long at that location, etc. Look for Better Business Bureau membership. Consult your local BBB to find out who is a member locally. Take notice of the vehicle(s) for outside service: do they have well marked vans, or are they personal vehicles or have barely legible or non-existent lettering? Are the people willing to talk to you, and give you information when you ask for it? And if you get into a situation where the serviceperson is looking to charge you for things that weren't specified beforehand, don't sign the bill, and don't give cash, especially after hours. Tell them that you will take it up with their supervisor on the next business day.

Also, another poster said, 'What can they do, beat you up and take money from you if you don't pay?' Well, in my experience, mainly on car lock-outs, if they refuse to pay, I would just toss the keys back in the car and lock it and shut the door. The price of the unlock has been discussed and agreed to before I ever show up on site.

Hope this helps.

EthicsmanJuly 9, 2009 6:15 PM

To the post insinuating the "legal locksmiths" are griping about the competition:
" I think he just doesn't like competition that isn't a part of his professional organization. It's the usual protectionist line that comes from any entity that fears change as a loss of business."
You are way off base. This is about the good of the general public. These guys are charging exhorbitant prices while mangling peoples property. They have no sense of community. When doing commercial work, they have no idea of Life Safety Codes or Building Codes.
In our area, the Maryland Locksmiths Association welcomes new people into the business. We recognize that we can no longer have enough children to pass the trade from father to son because of the increased number of locks and the need for security! Historically members of associations have been a fraction of the available locksmiths that advertise and do business locally. But because you advertise as a locksmith doesn't mean you are one. The established businesses, non-association members, have always been judged by their skills and not by their politics related to association membership.
So in a way this guy was right. But the protectionism he missed is the desire to protect the public from the bad guys, which has been the gaol of every reputable locksmith I've ever known.
ThirdGenLocksmith has it right. Have a locksmith in advance.

amendsNovember 9, 2009 8:22 PM

the locksmith scam DEPENABLE LOCKS, YY Call center and thier various other names were taken down in Clearwater, Fl - I think he scary part is not that we think they are from Israel but that they get into our country, commit money laundering and fraud- ship all the money illegally out of the country through our own postal sysytem (postal money order) to fund whatever organization of thier choice -the techs were placed in all major cities throughout the US,people complain throughout the Us & no one listened for almost 5 years - hmm - I wonder how the terrorists do thier thing?Patriot Law - I guess that only applies to US citizens- National Security? are you awake out there?

RobinNovember 21, 2009 12:47 PM

"I think he scary part is not that we think they are from Israel"

No we don't "think they are from Israel, they ARE from Israel and the leading right-leaning Israeli newspaper doesn't have a problem saying so!

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3801438,00.html

Add in
http://www.therolladailynews.com/state_news/x255178727/Locksmith-tech-among-those-facing-federal-charges

"are each charged with conspiracy to recruit and employ aliens who are not authorized to work in the United States"

It has taken YEARS to take down this organization to this extent, there have been other state prosecutions, but this time it's the Feds. BRAVO!

FL Israeli/AmericanDecember 26, 2009 3:23 AM

Of course just because I write it doesn't mean it's true as you all know. I was married to an Israeli locksmith (divorced but this had nothing to do with it). He was licensed in FL, business license, etc but also had trouble because of these other companies talking over google, 411 etc. My point for writing is not all are bad. Do your homework, check licenses, watch for uniforms, signs on vehicles and so on. Part of the problem is also people don't really listen. A service call price is quoted over the phone but the rest of the charge can't possibly be know until the locksmith arrives to see what kind of lock it is and what exactly needs to be done (unless of course you know what exact mechinisim it is and can let them know...highly doubtful). Sometimes yes it may just take seconds, and people get mad and don't want to pay. If it's so easy, you shouldn't have called then. Remember you are also paying for the gas/mileage it took to get to you, plus the licenses and so on. In reality, if it's less than $100, you got a GREAT deal. If it's more, it may be the mechinism is high security or some other problem. But...if you are asked for $1500 to change a lock...duh...I would question it too.
Funny, the Israelis I know always complain that the Latinos are all working without licenses and taking their business. Guess someone always needs to gets blammed (forgot to mention, my ex was dark skinned and everyone assumed he was Latino...go figure).

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