Category: Locksmith

Top 5 Signs of A Locksmith Scam (and How To Avoid Them)

The Top 5 Signs of A Locksmith Scam and How To Avoid Them

It seems that everywhere you turn these days, there’s some sort of buzz about getting scammed. From telemarketing scams like owing the IRS money or mysteriously qualifying for a federal government grant, criminals are relentless in their pursuit to extract innocent citizens’ money at every turn.

But one scam gets a lot less attention and certainly doesn’t have the FCC‘s attention. It’s a scam that’s always been around but has really reared its ugly head thanks to the power of Google’s Business Profiles. Worst of all, if you’re not careful, you could play right into their hands when you’re at your most vulnerable. We’re talking, of course, about the rapid rise of locksmith scams.


What happens during a Locksmith Scam?

A locksmith scam involves the use of misleading local business listings, predominantly online, that pose as a local licensed locksmith. Callers needing locksmith services are routed to a call center where scammer locksmiths are deployed to the scene. In their advertisements, these listings usually advertise extremely low locksmith pricing but then significantly inflate the price once the work is completed. Unbeknownst to the consumer who’s locked out of a vehicle or is needing assistance with opening a lock, these scammer locksmiths pray upon the desperate consumers needing real, qualified locksmith services.


What Are the Signs I’m Being Scammed?

There are many ways that locksmith scammers manipulate and deceive consumers seeking legitimate locksmith services. As one of the leading locksmith services in the Mid-Atlantic, we want to warn our customers about the dangers of locksmith scams and how to spot an attempted scam. While there are a number of red flags to watch out for, this list should help you spot the most common locksmith scams that are being utilized today.


1 – Toll-Free Phone Numbers

When you’re searching the web for a locksmith, the first big red flag to be on the lookout for is listings that have toll-free numbers. With the exception of a service like AAA or concierge roadside assistance services, locksmiths typically don’t utilize lead generation services.

Another tell-tale sign that you’ve called a locksmith scammer is if they answer the phone with a generic greeting as opposed to the company’s name. If you’re calling a company called Johnny’s Locksmith but they answer with “Locksmith,” “Hello,” or “How can we help you?”, you’ve probably reached a call center. because they impersonate so many locksmiths all over the state or country, it’s easier for the scammer to answer with a generic greeting so they don’t get the company names mixed up.

2 – Extremely Low Prices

Another red flag that you’re dealing with a locksmith scammer is extremely low prices. According to the New York Times, fake locksmith listings can completely dominate local search results in some areas like Brooklyn or Manhattan. They’ll typically advertise unbelievably low rates as low as $19, easily luring unknowing victims into such a great deal and then severely inflating the price after servicing is complete. Customers had reported getting final invoices totaling over $300 when the initially advertised price was $19.

 Any legitimate locksmith knows that you cannot run a sustainable business with prices as low as $19 since, like most businesses, you have to factor in taxes, fuel charges, parts, labor, and more. If you see one of these prices that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

3 – Unbranded Company Vehicles

Plain white unmarked service vans are the vehicle of choice for would-be locksmith scammers. In our society, almost any legitimate business, regardless of industry, will have company branding on its vehicles. Some companies will be more flashy than others with full vehicle wraps, but the locksmith that arrives should at least have some sort of branding identifiers such as a logo, address, and phone number visible on the vehicle itself.

 While not every company will have a uniform, you can be sure that legitimate locksmiths will have appropriately marked vehicles to let their customers know who they are. This is especially important if you’re needing night service as visibility is already impaired.

4 – Insisting on Lock Drilling

Scammer Locksmith Insists on drilling out lockComing in at number four on our list of locksmith scam red flags is lock drilling. Now, to be clear, there are situations when a lock is so damaged or difficult to open that it must be drilled. However, this is rarely the case and you should be wary of any locksmith whose first means of problem-solving is to drill a lock. Most locksmiths are experienced and capable of getting through most locks without the need for damaging or replacing the lock. The only instance we can reasonably think of would be in the rare case of ultra-high security locks and Kwikset SmartKey.

This scam is usually pretty simple: The locksmith shows up and states that you’ve got a “high-security” or “commercial” lock that can’t be picked and needs to be drilled. This is a common tactic for scammers to state that the job is more complicated than they initially thought. And while it’s technically true that jobs can become more complicated, it’s pretty rare.

Locksmiths are usually well-aware of almost all types of locks on the market and have methods of servicing even high-security locks. While there are exceptions to this, a qualified locksmith will usually get the job done right the first time without the need to damage the lock with drilling.

When the locksmith you’ve contacted shows up on the scene, they should already be well aware of the type of locks they’re dealing with. Almost all locksmiths have a way to receive a photo of the lock prior to deploying a locksmith to the scene. Any locksmith worth their salt is going to ask qualifying questions to determine what sort of locks you may have. Be sure to ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable, and if their answers are vague or unsatisfactory, run the other way as fast as you can!

5 – An Unknown Location

It’s true that some of the best locksmiths work strickly from a van as a mobile locksmith, but they’ll still have the appropriate company branding on their vehicle and will answer their phones with the appropriate company-first greeting.

For all others, they’ve likely got at least one physical location that you should be able to verify with a quick Google search. For example, here at WFX we clearly list our address and contact information, with both a toll-free and local number as well as our branch office addresses. While we service a wider area than just around our locations, anyone wanting to verify our legitimacy can do so in three different areas.

Locksmith scammers, on the other hand, usually only have service areas. And while that alone isn’t necessarily an indicator of a scam, the odds are that when you contact them, you’re reaching a call center that covers calls for the scammer’s extremely large service area.


How to Find a Dependable and Legitimate Locksmith

With the web being the number one way most people search for locksmith services, it’s not surprising that so many people fall victim to locksmith scams.

When seeking out dependable and professional locksmith services, be sure to verify the name of the company you call matches the name on the vehicle that shows up. Don’t hesitate to ask for estimates, and always make sure that you’re fully aware of the services you’re being charged for.

Watch out for plain white service vehicles without any company branding. And don’t let any tell you they need to drill a lock without a detailed explanation and verification that they’ve actually attempted other means to service the lock.


If you’re ever in doubt, be sure to give us a call for all of your locksmithing needs. Our team of experts will answer any questions you may have and will help get you the legitimate locksmith services you need.


Best Qualities of A Good Locksmith

Best Qualities to Look for in A Great Locksmith

When you’re searching online for locksmiths near you, you’ll probably be flooded with many different listings to help you with your specific needs. Maybe you’re locked out of your car on a cold and rainy night, or perhaps you just need the locks changed on your rental property. No matter the situation, your goal is to find someone fast, dependable, and reputable.

But how can you know who you’re calling will be the best locksmith for the job? There’s a school of thought that any locksmith will do, but the reality is that there’s a significant difference between every locksmith you contact. Some locksmiths may only handle automobiles, while others may be full-service and perform residential and commercial work. Depending on your unique needs, it can be challenging to make the right choice.

But fear not! We’ve compiled a list of the top four most important things to consider when choosing a locksmith. While there’s not one quality or attribute that’s necessarily more important than another, if you find yourself in the presence of all four, you’re likely in great hands.


The Top 4 Qualities of a Good Locksmith

Quality #1 – 24/7 Service Availability

Except for preplanned projects like new locks or rekeys, it’s too often that we find ourselves in need of a locksmith at the worst possible times. Believe it or not, it’s not uncommon for an automobile key to be lost in the snow at night, or you’ve driven home from working the second shift only to realize that your house key is still at work. When these unfortunate events happen, getting service from a locksmith that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week is essential.


Quality #2 – Fast Service

In the above example about losing a car or truck key in the snow, the last thing anyone wants is to be waiting for hours on end for a locksmith to come; even worse, having to wait until the next day. Hanging on the coattails of 24/7 availability is a locksmith that also offers a prompt response time. While not instantaneous, a good locksmith knows that the longer customers have to wait, the more upset they might become, especially after such a frustrating event as a lockout. Most locksmiths can perform service within an hour or less, and some offer swift response times. An exception might be on a hectic holiday weekend or during extremely inclement weather, but even then, they do what needs to be done to service the customer.


Quality #3 – A Solid and Verifiable Reputation

Consumers are very quick to speak out about bad service, but it’s not often enough that they’ll take the time to leave a positive review. However, always check to see what sort of reviews the locksmith has. While there may not be thousands of reviews, the quality of the reviews is often much more important than the quantity. This is especially true when searching online via major search engines as legitimate locksmith businesses are often grouped together with scammer locksmith (link to scammer locksmith post, delete this after) listings.


Quality #4 – Multiple Services

This one is a bit tricky to describe. If a locksmith only offers one service, such as automobile lockouts, it doesn’t mean that they won’t do an excellent job of satisfying your needs. However, you should always try to find a locksmith that offers multiple services, from automobiles to residential and commercial work. By building a successful relationship with a locksmith with numerous services available, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you’ve found a locksmith that you can rely on for years to come.


At WFX, We Know Locks

Whether you need a locksmith service today or you’re just building out your service contact lists, we’re always available to answer any questions that you may have about locks, keys, or anything else locksmith-related. We offer a full suite of other products and services, including gun safes, fire safety equipment, and home security products.


Contact us today to see how we can help take care of you and your loved ones.


3 Common Door Lock Questions and Their Solutions

3 Common Door Lock Questions and Their Solutions

One of the most underappreciated pieces of hardware in our homes is the door lock. From the front door of our homes to individual bedrooms, this little piece of security helps to keep us safe or ensures that the room’s contents can be secured inside.

There are many different types of door locks, including the newest hot seller, smart locks. These tech-driven devices offer unprecedented levels of control through wifi and smartphone apps while still performing as a door lock should.

But no matter if a lock is smart or “dumb,” each one is prone to issues at some point or another, no matter the cost. Most of these issues can be resolved without calling a locksmith. However, in the case of a seized lock or a busted tumbler, the lock will likely need servicing or replacement.

 After all of our years of experience in the locksmith business, we’ve decided to list out the top three most common door lock issues and the most common solutions for a quick and easy fix.


How Do I Fix A Door Lock That Doesn’t Latch?

A door lock that doesn’t latch properly is usually caused by a misaligned strike plate. The strike plate is the small metal cover that is affixed to the door frame and has a precut hole in the shape of the door latch. As most residential door frames are made of wood, a naturally occurring shrinkage can happen that causes the strike plate to become misaligned from its original install position.

To diagnose this problem, look at the strike plate and see if there are any scarring marks where the latch is hitting. Next, use a screwdriver to loosen the screws in the strike plate and make small adjustments to the strike plate’s positioning. Once this has been adjusted, try to close the door and make note of where the latch lands. If the alignment adjustment fixes the issue, great! If not, the strike plate may need to be replaced. It’s possible to replace the standard strike plate with an adjustable version that slides on a small track.


How Do I Remove A Key That’s Broken Off In A Lock?

broken key in doorThis one is an unfortunate but quick repair in most cases — in some cases, however, you may need to refer to a locksmith. If your key has broken off in your door’s lock and part of it is still visible, take a pair of needle-nose pliers and try to grab the end of the broken key. If you’re able to make a secure connection with the broken key, keep a tight grip on the pliers and slowly pull outward. Hopefully, this is the only thing you need to do to remove the key.

If the key is still stuck after using pliers or if there’s not enough key to grab, you can try to remove the cylinder. Once the cylinder is removed, a thin but stiff wire can sometimes be inserted into the cam slot to force the key out. If this fails, it’s usually best to take it to a locksmith.


How Do I Fix A Spinning Lock Cylinder?

When a lock cylinder is spinning, it usually means that the setscrews that maintain their position are loose or broken. In the case of a mortise lock, start by removing the faceplate if applicable at the edge of the door and locate the setscrews. In order to work properly, they need to be positioned in line with the cylinder’s center point. Begin tightening the setscrews by turning them clockwise. Once the correct vertical position had been achieved, replace the faceplate.

For a surface-mount rim lock, remove the cover’s screws. You should then see the setscrews which simply need a bit of tightening.



Need more advanced help? Our expert locksmiths can help with any of your lock troubles. Give us a call and schedule a lock repair today!


The Costs of Car Key Replacements

How Much Does It Cost to Replace A Car Key


Losing a car key is never fun. Did we leave it at the park? Maybe it’s in that one coat pocket. No matter where they seem to disappear to, one thing’s for sure — the days of cheap car key replacement are pretty much over. With older vehicles that had non-electric, or “dumb” keys, those are still cheap enough to get replaced. We don’t advise that you intentionally lose them just to find out, but in the event that a key is damaged or goes missing for that 1992 Toyota 4×4, you can get them replaced at most locksmiths or hardware stores.


Where the costs really start to creep in is when you’re attempting to replace keys that offer locking, security alarm sounding, or have a fancier release mechanism. Labor prices will vary depending based on location, but this should paint a pretty clear picture about the cost to replace a car key.


Basic Key – No Fob

First, the basic key without a fob — sturdy, simple, and most importantly, cheap to replace. Assuming there’s a spare key available, these keys aren’t usually more than a couple of bucks and can be replicated at most hardware stores and by any locksmith.


Basic Key – Fob

A basic key with a fob is usually able to be replaced by a fob-fit key shank along with an aftermarket key. These prices vary drastically depending on location, locksmith, and programming. Programming is the most expensive part of this replacement, although sometimes a car’s owner’s manual will explain how to reprogram a new key fob. If that’s not in the cards, a typical key with a fob replacement will generally cost between $50-$100 or more depending on the amount of work needed to cut a new key.


Transponder Keys

Transponder keys, equipped with a microchip in the head of the key, send a low-level energy signal via RFID (radio frequency identification) that’s received by a remote receiver within the vehicle in order to start the vehicle’s engine. This technology was implemented sometime in the 1990s as an added security measure to curb car theft. Today, however, it is possible for some criminals to steal a car with transponder keys.

Regarding the cost, copying or remaking a transponder key is much more expensive than a basic key or a basic key with a fob. This is because only a car dealership or a qualified locksmith has both the tools and the skillset to get one of these unique keys made. Replacing a transponder key can range from around $140-$200 depending on location and parts.


Laser-Cut Keys

Laser-cut keys are easily identified by their ticker shank with deep-cut markings on the sides and are usually smooth and flat on the top and bottom. Unfortunately, most laser-cut keys are only able to be cut at automotive dealerships since many locksmiths don’t have the laser cutting machine that’s able to cut key shanks to spec. The typical cost for replacing a laser-cut key range from $150-$300 depending on location.


Switchblade Keys

A switchblade key has a mechanical button release that flips the key shank out from the fob during use and tucks away neatly when not. Depending on the vehicle manufacturer, these can be either have a basic cut or a laser cut. Switchblade keys are unique in that the shank can be replaced separately from the fob. Individual shanks can range from $40-$80 depending on location, that’s only beneficial if the shank itself was damaged. In the event of a total key loss, expect the pay range to begin around $200 and go up from there depending on location and manufacturer.


Always Have A Spare Key

Keys can be expensive to replace and can lead to a bad day when one is lost or damaged. Most new vehicles come with two complete key sets upon purchase. It’s always a good idea to get a key replacement quote from the dealership at the time of purchase and jot it down to keep in the back of the owner’s manual. When searching for a locksmith, always seek out an ALOA-certified locksmith.



Need to have a key replaced? Contact us today to find out all of your options!

Does a Car Key Locksmith Require an Original Copy of Your Key?

Does a Car Key Locksmith Require an Original Copy of Your Key?

It’s one of your worst nightmares as a driver: you misplace your car key while you’re in a hurry, only to discover that it’s nowhere to be found. To make matters worse, you don’t have a spare key to bring to a car key locksmith. Fortunately, there’s no need to stress. Most skilled locksmiths are capable of replacing your lost key without requiring you to bring an original copy.

To ensure that you don’t encounter any problems while working with a locksmith, it’s important to understand what to expect. There are a few key steps that you should take before hiring a professional so that you can achieve your goal without any difficulties. Here’s everything you need to know about having your car key replaced by a locksmith.


Determine What Type of Replacement You Need

When it comes to replacing a car key, everyone’s needs are different. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure that you know which type of replacement key is right for you. This will also help prevent confusion while you work with a professional locksmith.


Traditional Keys

To determine which type of replacement you need, start by looking at your car model. Cars that were manufactured in 1981 or earlier only require a simple key cut. This key cut comes from a standard car key block, minimizing the amount of work needed to produce your replacement key.

Transponder Keys

If your car was manufactured after 1981, the process tends to be a bit more complex. In this case, a car key locksmith typically has to produce a transponder key, which is an advanced type of key that contains programmed chips. These chips act as safety features that boost the overall security of your car key.

Today’s transponder keys need to be correctly programmed after they are cut. Failing to properly program the key will prevent it from locking or unlocking your vehicle. If you own a newer car model, it’s well worth your time to find a locksmith who is trained to cut and program your key correctly.

Smart Keys

Some modern cars also use smart keys, which are more technologically advanced than transponder keys. Smart keys are designed to closely mimic remote controls. Unlike traditional car keys, smart keys do not require the user to turn the ignition. Instead, these keys act as key fobs and provide a much more seamless experience for drivers.



How to Prepare to Meet With a Locksmith

Before you hire a locksmith, it’s a good idea to be fully prepared to have your car key replaced. First, confirm that you have the following information handy:

  • Make & model of the vehicle
  • Year of the vehicle
  • Registration
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)

car key copy from locksmithIn some situations, it can be helpful to provide your key identification number, or key code, as well. This number is typically found in your car manual. However, if you can’t locate this information, don’t worry. Most car key locksmiths don’t require you to have your key code on hand.

Once you’ve gathered all the relevant information, it’s time to start looking for an auto locksmith that best fits your needs. The right locksmith for you depends on a number of factors, such as your budget, your location and the type of car you own.

Be sure to carefully consider your options as you search for an expert. By taking the right factors into account, you can narrow down your options and find the locksmith that best serves your needs. This includes looking at reviews and reading the company’s website to get a clearer idea of what services they offer, such as lock and door maintenance or emergency services.

If you’re looking for a local car key locksmith, you might want to consider speaking to friends in your area to get a recommendation. This helps raise your chances of finding a skilled locksmith that you can trust.

If you’re caught between several options, be sure to request information about services and pricing. By comparing the prices of different types of locksmith services, you can make a well-informed decision that lets you get the most out of your new car key.


Replace Your Car Key With Help From a Professional Locksmith

No matter what type of car you own, it’s crucial to find the help that you need to have your car key properly replaced. Trusting an expert locksmith to replace your key can help give you peace of mind and ensure that the process goes much more smoothly. The best part is that you don’t even need your original key to have a locksmith create a new one for you.


» If you’re in search of an experienced car key locksmith that you can rely on, WFX is here to help. Our professional locksmiths prioritize honesty and high-quality workmanship to deliver top-notch results. To learn more about the services that we offer or to schedule an appointment with us, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.