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How to Avoid Locksmith Scams

Eric

While you can certainly find a reputable service provider if you know how and where to look, there are plenty of bad apples out there that make the search murky. Unfortunately, the need to weed out scammers is especially prevalent in the locksmith industry. In fact, according to the Consumer Federation of America, locksmith scams are some of the most frequently reported complaints.

If you come across a “bargain” locksmith offer that seems to good to be true, chances are it is. “It is impossible for any reputable locksmith to charge only $10 or $20 per picked lock and remain in business,” as discussed in an article featured on Redfin, a popular online real estate broker. Legitimate 24-hour locksmiths must set their prices based on several unavoidable expenses that come with the territory, including on-demand transportation to and from your location and the cost of supplies.

Scammers work by targeting and attempting to victimize people who are caught in a pinch, such as those who are locked out of their home, car, or office. But you don’t need to fall for these moves! Read on to learn how to navigate the locksmith market while avoiding scams, protecting yourself and your property, and getting the job done right.

1. Vet and pre-select your locksmith ahead of time

Do your research before an emergency situation arises (for example, when you’re locked out late at night and just want to get inside to sleep). When you’re in a jam, emotions can run high, and panic or urgency can lead you to relax your guard and lower your standards to get the job done as soon as possible despite potential consequences. Know who you’d call if locked out well in advance, and keep a reputable local locksmith contact programmed in your phone.

2. Know the red flags

Remain especially vigilant when using a search engine to locate a 24-hour locksmith, as scammers have a reputation for dominating the paid advertisements that appear at the top of some search engines (such as AdWords in Google). Some of these so-called businesses may not even be local; instead they are monopolizing searches to fish for victims.

Be wary of any locksmith company that uses an 800 number rather than one with a local area code, and avoid working with those that identify themselves with generic names such as “locksmith services.”

Common scams to watch for include the bait-and-switch, in which scammers charge significantly more once they have secured your business by promising unrealistically low prices; cash-only policies, which allow scammers to prevent credit or debit card charge disputes; identity theft; and fraudulent “locksmiths” who insist on removing the current lock system or door handle and replacing it with an overpriced new one. Legitimate, skilled locksmiths should be able to unlock most locks.

3. Read reviews

Don’t skip this important part of the vetting process. Before you dial any potential locksmiths, browse real-life feedback via online verification, rating, and review platforms such as Yelp, Google reviews, Angie’s List, and Better Business Bureau. If you are using Google for your search, look for a new feature called Google Guarantee, which labels background-checked and insured providers with a green check-mark badge. Note: this is different than AdWords, which marks paid advertisements with a green “Ad” label and has a history of being more prone to scammers.

4. Don’t hesitate to ask questions

Reputable locksmith businesses should be able to answer the following questions (along with most others you might have before ordering the job):

    • Location (search it to confirm there is a business at that address)
    • Quote (make sure it matches anything you may have seen them advertise online)
    • Accepted payment methods (steer clear of cash-only)
    • Name of the locksmith that will be coming
    • Any additional charges (such as after-hours premiums, mileage, etc.)
  • Written records (a quote in writing and a receipt after you pay)

5. Report scammers and spread the word

If you do encounter a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission online. You may also want to spread the word in your personal circle (such as a social media post) and write a review online. Together, we stand a better chance of reducing the number of locksmith scammers out there and supporting high-quality local services.

Contact Broadway Locksmith today to learn more about our trusted locksmiths!

Don’t Miss These Essential Home Security Tips

Eric

The FBI’s 2016 report Crime in the United States noted 7,919,035 property crime offenses throughout the nation. While in the past 10 years there has been a recorded 19.9 percent decline in this type of crime, that is still a massive number to consider.

Even if you live in a neighborhood that is considered safe, everyone should take a few basic steps to secure your home. Similar to insurance, it’s better to invest a bit of preventative work or finances up front, than to be left covering the entirety of the costs in the event of an incident.

Plan of Action

You don’t need to hire a guard to keep your home safe, but a little bit of role-playing snooping around your own home could do quite a bit of good. Considering that the majority of home burglaries are not committed by experienced criminal masterminds, some simple precautions can ward off any would-be thieves. In no particular order:

  • Lock the doors and close (and lock) the windows. Many burglars just climb through a window or walk through an unlocked door.
  • Walk around your home as though you were trying to break in. See if you can find any weaknesses that could be exploited.
  • When you move into a new house, change all of the locks and tumblers.
  • Make it look like someone is indoors at all times. Whether that means using timers on the lights or a radio, or just keeping a tv on when you’re out.
  • If your alarm system has been damaged and goes off frequently in error, get it fixed immediately. Once fixed, make sure that your neighbors know it is fixed. It’s easy to ignore an alarm you believe is faulty.
  • Do not keep your spare key in the mailbox, under the doormat, or anywhere obvious or easily accessible. Rather, put the key in a box and bury it somewhere you know you can easily find it if needed (but where thieves would not think to look).

Window Security

  • If you have an air conditioning unit on the first floor, make sure it is securely installed so that it cannot be easily removed.
  • Install deadbolts onto your windows so you can lock them from the inside.
  • Decorative window bars can provide extra security while providing some welcomed additional decor to your home.
  • Install a window alarm. If the window is opened from the outside, or forced without being cleared by the alarm, you’ll know.

Door Security

  • Avoid planting shrubbery close to doors or windows. These can provide easy hiding spots for potential burglars until they find an opportunity to sneak in.
  • Consider outfitting your door with a deadbolt lock. These won’t be battered around and broken easily, and because they are not spring activated, they cannot be picked with a knife or bobby pin.
  • Seal any space found between the door and the frame. It is easy for any would-be burglars to jimmy the lock open with this space available. You can use either sheet metal or plywood to fill in the gap.
  • If the hinges on your door are on the outside, hire a professional to configure the door with the hinges on the inside. Some potential burglars may attempt to get past the door by knocking out accessible hinge pins.

The amount of property crime may be dropping, but it will not completely disappear. There is no reason to let a small immediate expense prevent you from far greater loss. Try these simple steps to protect your home and your family against big losses.

Contact Broadway Locksmith today to discuss how we can help you secure your home.

Tips and Tricks to Prevent Getting Locked Out

Eric

You may have an idea of what to do if you get locked out — but what steps can you take to prevent getting locked out in the first place? Leaving the windows unlocked in your home or business, or rolling or cracking your car windows, is not the answer. Doing so is not secure, and makes your property more vulnerable to potential intruders. Here are some practical and safe tips to try instead.

1. Have ready access to a spare key

Think ahead and find a locksmith to cut you a spare key! Once you have a duplicated key, be smart about where you store it. Do not keep it under your doormat, as this has become one of the most obvious “hiding” spots and is the first place many potential intruders will look for a spare. Instead, try keeping it with a trustworthy friend, family member, or neighbor, or carry it securely in your purse, briefcase, or other bag. For in-case-of-emergency car keys, consider trying a magnetic key holder. These allow you to keep your spare well-hidden in a safe yet secure location under your vehicle.

Make sure you get a reliable duplicate, as some lower-quality duplication services may not cut a perfect fit. Another way to avoid ending up with an uneven duplicate is to get a copy of the original key rather than of an existing spare.

2. Use caution with doors that auto-lock

If your door is equipped with a smart lock that is programmed to automatically relock each time it closes behind you, be extra vigilant and remember to keep your key on you (or your smartphone, if the door unlocks via app) each time you leave — even if you’re just taking the trash out or getting the mail. Make this a rule of thumb, and once it becomes second nature, you won’t need to worry about accidentally locking yourself out.

3. Each resident should bring their own key on-the-go

When you leave the house for a night out with a roommate or to enjoy an afternoon with your spouse, don’t assume only one of you will need to bring your key. You should each bring your personal copy just in case you are separated while you’re out. For example, perhaps your roommate wants to stay late at a party but you’re ready to return home, or maybe you’re dropping your spouse off at an appointment on your way home and they forget to hand the key off to you. It’s always better to carry your own key to avoid any unanticipated or accidental lockouts upon your return later.

4. Store a trusted locksmith contact in your phone

Know who to contact if you’re locked out. In addition, store other trusted contacts who might be able to help you out in a pinch.

5. Help yourself keep track of your keys

Install a key hook directly by your front door, purchase a key hook that can latch onto the rim of your purse or bag to help you keep track of your set, add a carabiner to your keyring for easy carrying or hooking to your belt loop… any secure solution that works for you.

6. If your car key uses a fob, replace the batteries regularly

You’re hauling a cart full of groceries back to the parking lot when you click your key fob or remote to unlock the trunk… and it’s completely unresponsive. No one wants to be surprised with a drained fob battery, especially when they have somewhere to be (all those freshly purchased groceries from the freezer aisle may not last long while you wait for rescue!). Monitor the battery life of your fob or remote key and replace as necessary.

Contact Broadway Locksmith today to discuss all of your key needs!

6 Valuable Household Services that Homeowners Overlook

Eric

When you consider which household services you must prioritize as a homeowner, you likely think of the obvious — lawn and landscaping maintenance, keeping up with interior and exterior paint jobs, plumbing, utilities. But sometimes the overlooked responsibilities are actually the unsung heroes of maintaining a safe, secure, and comfortable home. Don’t skip these essential services.

1. Chimney Inspections

Regardless of the fireplace type (gas, wood, pellet stove, oil stove, cook stove, and more), if your household enjoys a warm fire from time to time, it’s important to schedule an annual chimney inspection to keep up with regular maintenance.

A reputable chimney sweep company won’t simply perform a run-of-the-mill cleaning and hit the road; comprehensive chimney care should include a full visual and physical evaluation to identify any issues and provide only the necessary repairs or cleaning. This includes ensuring the duct is free of excess buildup, there are no animal nests present, and that the fireplace heating capabilities are fully functional.

On the exterior chimney surface, waterproofing is often necessary to protect against moisture damage. The ultimate goal is to provide an efficient fireplace that you and your family can safely enjoy at your leisure for years to come.

2. Locksmith Services

You may not assume you need to keep up where the best local locksmith is located… until you find yourself locked out of the house unexpectedly (and usually at the most inconvenient time)! For this reason alone, it’s wise to keep a reputable 24/7 neighborhood locksmith’s contact information saved in your phone.

Additional home lock services to consider include rekeying for increased security and durability; specialty lock repair (such as older mortise locks and unit locks); and remote lock control installation (an especially accessible option for households with limited mobility residents or those with health concerns).

3. Bathtub Refinishing

Yes, it’s true — bathtub refinishing, reglazing, and resurfacing are all critical home services! Because the bathroom is often the highest-moisture room in the house, it is especially susceptible to mold and mildew growth. If there’s one place in the bathroom where moisture-loving fungi love to hang out most, it’s undoubtedly the shower and tub (for obvious reasons).

In particular, tub and shower corners accumulate water from bathing, and over time mold will crop up in these hotspots. Mold can even develop underneath your existing tub finish, slowly but surely wearing down its quality and affecting air quality! Refinishing will not only restore a clean look and durability to this bathroom focal point — it will also improve overall hygiene.

4. Sealing Tile

While we’re on the subject of tub and shower maintenance, there’s another key area you shouldn’t overlook — tiling. Low-quality or aged grout can wreck your prized tile job as it stains and cracks. Avoid this by hiring a professional to clean, seal, or refresh grout with a durable and stain-proof option that is compatible with surface materials from ceramic to porcelain or natural stone.

5. Home Inspections

When is a professional home inspection in order? Don’t skip this step if you’re planning to sell your home, purchase a home, build a new home or begin construction, or are anticipating the expiration date of a 1-year builder warranty. Your inspector will perform a thorough visual and physical evaluation of the property in question and provide a report detailing key findings about the construction condition, quality, integrity, functionality, and so much more. Ensure your buying or selling decision is well-informed before taking the leap to list or make an offer.

6. Gutter Cleaning

It’s easy to overlook your gutters — after all, they’re typically overhead, out of sight, and out of mind. However, they’re actually doing a lot of heavy lifting to protect your roof and overall home, as they redirect rainwater and accumulated moisture away from the vulnerable exterior. If left unmanaged over time, they will inevitably collect debris such as leaves, twigs, and mold plus pests such as insects or rodents. This will affect drainage and directly contribute to roof leaks and water damage. Avoid the headache by scheduling regular gutter cleanings!

Contact Broadway Locksmith today to learn more about our locksmith services!

Locked Out? What to Do Until Your Locksmith Arrives

Eric

Perhaps you’ve locked yourself out of the house while getting the mail or taking out the trash. Or maybe you’ve locked your keys inside the car while running errands. While these uncanny mishaps can have you cursing your luck, getting locked out (or accidentally locking yourself out) is incredibly common. If it happens to you, here’s what to do until your locksmith arrives to save the day (or night)!

1. Don’t DIY

First and foremost: don’t attempt to pick the lock yourself! This can damage your lock, ultimately requiring a repair or replacement instead of a simple lockout service. In addition, attempting to climb in through an unlocked window (or testing to see if any windows are unlocked), puts your safety at risk. Fall can cause severe injuries — especially if you’re locked out at night, when the dark makes it difficult to see where you’re stepping. If you’re unable to reach a roommate, landlord, friend, or family member who has a spare key, call a trusted local locksmith!

2. Stay safe

In addition to your physical safety, your overall personal safety should be top priority during a lockout.

If you’re locked out of your house: If you’re locked out during daylight hours and live in a relatively safe neighborhood, you may decide to simply wait it out on the doorstep or take a stroll around the block. However, if you’re locked out in the dark at night, consider waiting in your locked, parked car on a well-lit block near your home (if you have your car key or a spare on hand, that is!). This is also ideal if it’s cold or wet outside.

If you’re locked out of your car: Duck inside any nearby businesses that may be open late, or move to a well-lit area (let your locksmith know where you would like to meet) and call a friend or family member to come wait with you, if possible. If, for example, you find yourself locked out of your car in the parking lot of your doctor’s office after an appointment, don’t hesitate to head back inside and relax in the waiting room until your locksmith meets you.

If you’re locked out of your business: if you are located in a business building or industrial complex with a lobby or common area open to tenants, wait there. Otherwise, follow the same rules of thumb as above.

3. Keep yourself entertained

Calling on the company of a friend or family member is also a great way to help pass the time until your locksmith reaches your location. But if you must wait it out solo, there are plenty of easy ways to keep yourself occupied.

Hopefully your phone isn’t locked inside your car, home, or business with your keys! Not only will you need it to call the locksmith — it’ll also come in handy while you wait. Many smartphone owners have already downloaded their favorite games and other apps to stay entertained during this kind of downtime. Scroll through headlines on your news app, browse social media, or try to reach a new level in Candy Crush! Alternatively, go for a short walk nearby in the daylight.

If you do not have access to your cell phone, look for a nearby payphone or an open business that can lend you theirs for an emergency call to the locksmith.

4. Don’t stress — you’re in good hands!

While getting locked out is never convenient, it can be especially inconvenient after hours. For this reason, Broadway Locksmith is proud to offer 24-hour emergency locksmith service. Our customers can count on us to arrive on scene as soon as possible, no matter the time or day. Contact us in your time of need and we’ll help you get back inside safe and sound.

Contact Broadway Locksmith today to discuss ways to prevent yourself from getting locked out!

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