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Good research is key in preventing scams from phony locksmiths.
Less than one month after a network of phony locksmiths were banned from practicing business in North Carolina, area officials are encouraging residents to be on the lookout for similar scams.
A group of unlicensed locksmith companies used bait-and switch-tactics to scam customers across the state, according to an Aug. 31 press release from North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooperâ€™s office.
The defendants, 704 Locksmith Inc. of Charlotte, advertised locksmith services online and in the Yellow Pages using phone numbers that made their businesses seem locally operated, and they were not licensed to perform locksmith services.
â€śNobody likes to be locked out, but itâ€™s even worse if the company you call for help rips you off,â€ť Cooper said. â€śTo avoid scams, do your homework to find a legitimate, licensed locksmith.â€ť
The company did business using many different names, including Raleigh Locksmith, Durham Locksmith, Charlotte Locksmith, Concord Locksmith and Hickory Locksmith.
According to consumer complaints, the companies quoted consumers one price, then charged customers a much higher price and demanded cash payment.
Locksmiths are required by law to have an operatorâ€™s license to do business in North Carolina, and consumers should never pay for services unless locksmiths are licensed, said Jerry Gardner, owner of Jerryâ€™s Lock, Key and Door Repair in Conover.
â€śIf they donâ€™t (have a license), donâ€™t let them touch anything,â€ť Gardner said.
The phony locksmiths were ordered to pay more than $1.2 million in fines, including $5,000 for each week the company operated illegally. The civil penalties collected in the case will go to support public schools, according to the press release.