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Updated November, 2008
You may have been a victim and not even know it.
For Immediate Release
Arlington, VA - July 10, 2007 - The Better Business Bureau (BBB) today is warning consumers to beware of untrustworthy locksmith companies that are ripping off consumers across the country.
Victim complaints to the BBB reveal that several locksmith companies, all using similar methods, are significantly overcharging consumers, charging consumers for unnecessary services, using intimidation tactics, and failing to give refunds or respond to consumer complaints.
"Ironically, these companies operate under names like 'Dependable Locksmith' but in reality they exploit the vulnerable situation of consumers who are locked out of their house or car," said Steve Cox spokesperson for the BBB System. "We've found that some locksmiths have made taking advantage of consumers' misfortune part of their business model."
Complaints about locksmith services to the 114 BBBs serving the U.S. increased almost 75 percent from 2005 to 2006, and have continued to come in steadily during the first half of this year.
The BBB has identified Dependable Locksmith - which operates under more than a dozen different names - as a particularly disreputable locksmith. This company poses as a local locksmith in cities across the country and advertises in the yellow pages using local phone numbers and fake local addresses. A consumer might think they're dealing with a local locksmith but their phone call is actually connected to a call center located in the Bronx borough of New York City.
Consumers are quoted a reasonable price over the phone but when the locksmith arrives - typically in an unmarked vehicle - he demands significantly more money than originally quoted, often only accepting cash.
A complaint from Cleveland, OH, where Dependable Locksmith was operating under the name "Superb Solutions," alleges the company quoted fees of $39 and $84 for separate jobs, but the bill ended up at $471, which included add-on fees such as a $65 breaking in fee and a $58 fee to uninstall old locks.
Another complainant reported that the locksmith sent to let her into her car demanded she pay twice the price quoted over the phone. The locksmith offered to drive her to an ATM to get cash - feeling unsafe the victim refused. The victim was ultimately forced to write a check made out personally to the locksmith as he would not let her into her car until she did so. She cancelled payment on the check the next morning, but eventually filed a police report after the locksmith harassed her with continuous phone calls about payment.
The BBB has also heard many complaints from victims who say they were charged for unnecessary services. For example, complainants suspect locksmiths sent over by Dependable Locksmiths of pretending they couldn't simply pick the lock so that they could charge more and install all new locks in homes.
Some of Dependable Locksmith's aliases include, Superb Solutions, Locksmith 24 Hour, Inc., USA Total Security, Priceline Locksmith, and S.O.S. Locksmith.
Two other locksmith contractors fleecing consumers are Basad, Inc. - which operates under more than 50 names nationwide, such as A-1 Locksmith Service, A-1 24 Hour Locksmith, A-1 Lock & Key Locksmith, and AAA Locksmith 24 Hour - and Liberty Locksmith. Similar to Dependable Locksmith, they pose as local locksmiths and run full-page yellow pages ads with multiple phone and address listings. The phone numbers appear to be local, but connect to national call centers such as Liberty's in New York City, while the addresses end up belonging to other established businesses in the local area, or are simply non-existent.
Liberty Locksmith had been a BBB member in Tulsa, OK, but during normal BBB member validation processes, it was discovered that the addresses provided by the company were false. In June 2007, the BBB terminated the membership of Liberty Locksmith for providing false information in its membership application and providing misleading advertisements to the public.
Like others, Liberty Locksmith and Basad, Inc. use common cons such as quoting one price over the phone, but then charging significantly more on site.
"These companies are very good at posing as trustworthy locksmiths," said Mr. Cox. "Before you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being locked out of your car or house, do your research and find a truly dependable locksmith in your area. Ask around and always check with the BBB first to find reputable businesses."
If you feel you've been taken advantage of by Dependable Locksmith, Liberty Locksmith, Basad. Inc., or others, please contact the BBB to file a complaint, or do so online at www.bbb.org.
# # #
Keep reading, it gets better: They're all over San Diego...
Superb Solutions / Priceline Locksmith / Dependable Locksmith
Did you know...
...That if you go to Yahoo! Local, or Google for the San Diego area, and search for "locksmith", out of the first 10 pages of results (not counting the "Sponsor Results" or the "User Recommended" result), only 7 of the locksmiths in those 10 pages are licensed? The vast majority of listings for the first 10 pages, are the same unlicensed, NON-local company, using fake local addresses, templated websites, and various toll free numbers, all leading back to an apartment in the Bronx, New York.
Yep, they're almost all Priceline Locksmith AKA Superb Solutions Locksmith, and now, since being indicted and charged in state after state; Dependable Locksmith, under different, mostly UNLICENSED names, with conveniently local numbers.
In the results, scattered about, are several GOOD guys, licensed and above board all, like Jeff Bowers of Locksmith Express, Alcatraz Locksmith, Busy Bees, and more, who are all honest as the day is long, but who, like us, have to keep poor company like that because Yahoo & Google do no license checking.
How 'bout other results in the listings? Most again, are Priceline Locksmith AKA Superb Solutions Locksmith. Priceline Locksmith AKA Superb Solutions Locksmith AKA Dependable Locksmith sub-companies all over the place. I'd keep checking but it's just too darn depressing.
In addition to that hooey, quite a few of the Sponsored Results are verifiably incarnations of Priceline Locksmith AKA Superb Solutions Locksmith AKA Dependable Locksmith. Names such as: USATotalSecurity, 1-Locksmith, San-Diego-Locksmith, Top-Locksmith, the list goes on, and on, and on...
A perfect example of misleading advertising on Yahoo, as well as Google for locksmiths in the San Diego area is the company in the e-mail below This company is a Berkeley, CA (Northern California) company, probably not affiliated with Priceline in any way, but certainly taking a cue from that company's illegal business practices. They are appropriately licensed in NORTHERN CALFORNIA to do business in the city of Berkeley, in the County of Alameda (see licensure here). They are NOT however, licensed to do business in any but the county they are licensed in. Yet they flood advertising in Los Angeles, San Diego, and elsewhere in California, illegally (see California Business & Professions Code text below).
I recently got an extremely poorly spelled (with worse grammar) e-mail from these folks (see below), who are STILL, non-licensed in San Diego, implying that they were going to sue for my calling them out on their illegal business practices. Not only that, the e-mail came from a "gmail.com" address, and claimed to be from the "legal department." :-D Before sending the e-mail, they apparently decided not to read further than their own name to see exactly where they were breaking the law, and badly (the fines are NOT pretty). That's a shame. After I stopped laughing, I decided to rewrite the above paragraph.
Regarding the last line above: We invite this company to "react according to California state rules & regulation..." They obviously know very little about us as a company, or our adherence to, and insistence on, the laws of the State of California, or they wouldn't put their own company at risk in this manner. I'll keep you all updated on the outcome in a new blog post soon, where I "out" as many of the non-licensed in San Diego Locksmiths as I can find, by name, as well as providing a list of the locksmiths in the county who ARE licensed. :)
Other Sponsored Results on Yahoo & Google are simply unverifiable as being above board as the names they give, such as 247SanDiegoLocksmith and/or atozlocksmith (same company), are NOT licensed, yet when confronted, the businesses named insist that they are licensed, under other, non-local state licenses (in another name), a clear violation of California State BSIS (California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services) locksmith code as noted below - This violation, in itself, renders the named businesses as illegal, as they are operating under a name other than the one they claim they are licensed under, making it impossible for a customer to a) verify their license, or b) have any legal recourse (state level) for recovery should something go wrong:
BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONS CODE SECTION 6980.34-6980.41
- (a) Every application for a locksmith license in which the person applying desires to have the license issued under a fictitious business name shall include a certified copy of the fictitious business name statement filed with the county clerk pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 17900) of Part 3 of Division 7.
- (b) A licensee desiring to operate a locksmith business under one or more fictitious business names shall apply and qualify for an initial license for each fictitious business name.
- (c) No licensee shall indicate, or cause to be indicated, in any printed matter, or in any directory or listing, that he or she conducts a locksmith business under any name, other than the name for which he or she is licensed.
- (d) An application for a license for an additional fictitious business name shall be in the same form, and the applicant shall meet the same requirements, as for an initial license.
- A licensee desiring to operate a locksmith business at a location other than the principal place of business as shown on the license shall apply for a branch office registration for each additional location as set forth in this chapter.
- For purposes of this article, "branch office" means any additional location, other than the licensee's principal place of business, where locksmith services are provided. A telephone answering service or a telephone call forwarding device shall not be deemed to be a branch office.
- A licensee who maintains or proposes to maintain a branch office as defined in this article, shall apply and qualify for a branch office registration.
- An application for a branch office registration under this article shall be on a form prescribed by the director and shall be accompanied by the fee as set forth in this chapter.
- An application for a branch office registration shall include:
- (a) The full name and address of, and the telephone number at, the principal licensed location, and the license number of the applicant.
- (b) The address of, and the telephone number at, the branch office.
- Upon receipt of the application for a branch office registration, the chief shall issue a "Branch Office Registration." The registration shall be posted in a conspicuous place at the branch office location.
Most businesses who operate in this manner, using business names other than the one they are licensed in, or, as in Available and other's cases, by licensing in one city, but not in any others, yet still doing business in ALL, are well aware that this leaves the customer with no state recourse (license level), only civil, and only if you can prove that they did wrong. A monkey wrench in this for the customer is that it is illegal for any customer to hire an unlicensed contractor or locksmith. As these types of businesses know, you can't verify their license, you can't prove that they are, or are not, affiliated with a licensee, because by default they use a business name not permitted under the license they claim affiliation with, therefore any claim you make would be thrown out in a civil court, as you did not hire a legally licensed locksmith in the first place, in violation of state code.
- Every branch office registration issued under this chapter shall be subject to the same renewal provisions which apply to a license as provided in this chapter.
Nice Catch-22 eh?
If you are a legal, licensed, bonded, above board locksmith, with nothing to hide, why would you go to such great lengths to disguise your license? To use business names NOT licensed? To not follow the very laws you signed up for when you started working in this state? All questions worth considering, if not asking, before you hire a contractor or locksmith... Beware also, any locksmith who displays the ALOA (Associated Locksmiths of America) symbol on their website, without being a member, and in the ALOA database (Click HERE to verify ALOA membership at any time), as atozlocksmith does. What does this say about integrity?
Remember, the locksmith you call on the spur of the moment in a crisis is the locksmith who will have access into your home, your car, your business. This company you hire will have access to the places where your children reside, where your valuables are kept, where your business papers are stored. Shouldn't the FIRST thing a company you call have be 100% honesty? As in honestly licensed, honestly insured/bonded, and honestly locksmiths? In some company's cases, who like to skirt the laws as they stand in California, and license one office in one city, then look you in the eye and claim licensure in the ENTIRE state, they've already lied to you, before you even called them. Way to start off with the trust, eh?
By the way, the front page of ALOA (Associated Locksmiths of America) has a link on the left side titled: Take Action Against Phony Locksmiths. Click on the very bottom link - Unfortunately, ALOA does not keep their links up to date, and some of these are dead, but the ones that aren't are worth reading!
Who is Priceline Locksmith AKA Superb Solutions Locksmith AKA Dependable Locksmith you ask? Well, let me tell ya...
Wait! If I name ALL the charges, this Scams page will be 8 miles long... I'll address it more in depth in a "Notes from the Trenches" locksmith blog post coming up very soon.
- They are a consumers worst nightmare.
- They are the bane of every licensed locksmiths existence.
- They are under indictment and facing a variety of lawsuits in several states (Illinois, Wisconsin, Virginia, California, New York, Florida, etc.) for fraud, fraudulently inflated prices, fraudulent tactics, aggravated home repair fraud, failure to provide proper estimates, failing to display a city license, charging for services not performed, fraudulently substituting parts, failing to obtain approval before performing more expensive work, taking out confusing ads using another business name...
Don't take my word for it, run a Google search with any or all of the following search terms:
"David Sasson", "Shlomo Hadar" "Priceline Locksmith" "Superb Solutions Locksmith", "Dependable Locksmith" or a combination of any of the above. (Search engine tip... Searches work best when quotation marks are used to enclose any query involving more than one word that goes together, for instance: "David Sasson" - This will find ONLY instances of that term where both words are side by side as quoted.)
Moral of the story?
Locksmiths, by default, have access to your most private areas. They have access to your keys, your key codes, your safe combinations, your financial, your family, and your children's security.
VERIFY any locksmiths state license before you hire him/her!
For your own protection, for your own safety, for your families safety...
As always, complaints about both licensed, and unlicensed locksmiths in San Diego County can be directed here: California Department of Consumer Affairs
More to come...
January 1st, 2006
People who like to pretend to be US! (But do a really lousy job of it)
"San Diego County Lock & Safe"
"SD County Lock & Safe"
"San Diego County Locksmith,"
*** Click for important info ***
Links to News Stories about the ongoing Nationwide Locksmith Scams
Media / News Articles for 2009 (to date)
Beware Of Disreputable Locksmiths (July 7, 2009)
Locksmith fights cyber squatter (July 2, 2009)
Englewood locksmith accused of overcharging to pay $100K (June 26, 2009)
Can you trust your locksmith? (June 11, 2009)
Keying in on locksmith fraud (June 5, 2009)
Judge drops Web host from locksmith suit (June 4, 2009)
Finding a trustworthy locksmith (May 26, 2009)
AG Cooper Wins Court Order To Stop Phony Locksmiths (May 15, 2009)
State sues over deceptive locksmith tactics (May 14, 2009)
Judge halts locksmith scheme in N.C. (May 14, 2009)
Unlicensed Locksmiths Take Advantage Of Consumers (May 5, 2009)
Madison locksmiths fight brash new locksmith company (May 2, 2009)
Man cited in locksmith sting (May 2, 2009)
KSL 5 News investigates Dependable Locks (April 30, 2009)
Why Isn't State Doing More About Locksmiths? (April 29, 2009)
Locksmith scam targets Carson residents (April 29, 2009)
State to investigate locksmith scheme (April 27, 2009)
St Albans Woman's Shock At Locksmith's Bill (April 27, 2009)
Web only: Fake locksmiths caught on hidden camera (April 24, 2009)
Doctored Internet ads divert locksmith customers (April 24, 2009)
Anatomy of a sting (April 23, 2009)
Sting key to picking apart locksmith scheme (April 22, 2009)
Locksmiths Get Council All Keyed Up (April 20, 2009)
TN Tries to Shutdown Locksmith Scams (April 15, 2009)
Locksmith Scams Hit the Mid-South (April 10, 2009)
Bogus Numbers Remain After Yellow Pages Deadline (April 9, 2009)
BBB Issues Warning About Locksmiths in Mid-South (April 8, 2009)
Problem Solvers: Happy Ending to Locksmith Ripoff (April 7, 2009)
Missouri Attorney General Files Locksmith Lawsuit (April 2, 2009)
Missouri AG Announces Crackdown on Alleged Locksmith Ring (April 2, 2009)
Problem Solvers: Working for You to Unlock a Locksmith Scam (April 2, 2009)
K.C. locksmith lawsuit might be key to Koster’s upcoming presser (April 2, 2009)
Koster targets ‘fraudulent’ locksmith (April 1, 2009)
Locksmith Lessons (April 1, 2009)
Beware Locksmith Listings (March 30, 2009)
Professional warns of unlicensed locksmiths (March 27, 2009)
When you call a locksmith, who really shows up? (March 19, 2009)
More Online Problems For Locksmiths (March 17, 2009)
How To Avoid Locksmiths Who Overcharge (March 10, 2009)
Unlicensed Locksmiths Preying On Mid-South Customers (March 5, 2009)
Complaints of shady locksmiths on the rise (March 5, 2009)
Special Assignment: Locksmith Questions (March 5, 2009)
Locksmith Works To Fix Business Listing Problems (February 26, 2009)
Locksmith Fights To Keep Its Online Info Correct (February 25, 2009)
Need a locksmith? That ‘local’ company may pick your pocket, not the lock (February 14, 2009)
Consumer Alert: Locksmith Fraud (January 27, 2009)
New York Business Steals Omaha Address (January 11, 2009)
Media / News Articles for 2008
Shady locksmiths continue to prey on area residents (July 8, 2009) video link
Stranded Driver Finds Local Help Not A Lock (December 23, 2008)
Be Aware: Help Lock out Unscrupulous Locksmiths (December 4, 2008)
7 On Your Side: Locksmith Ad Fools Consumers, Angers Businesses (December 1, 2008)
Scammers target locksmith customers (November 21, 2008)
Locksmith Warning (November 2, 2008)
Don't Be Scammed by Phony Locksmiths (October 31, 2008)
"I Fell For The Locksmith Scam" (October 30, 2008)
Locksmiths using phony local addresses to get more business (September 19, 2008)
Experts Warn of Locksmith Scam (July 23, 2008)
Family says they were overcharged for lock (July 3, 2008)
Lock Them Out (June 20, 2008)
FTC Urges Consumers to Use Caution When Seeking a Locksmith (May 30, 2008)
Locksmith scam bill passes state assembly (May 22, 2008)
What to Know When You Need a Locksmith (April 25, 2008)
Local seeks the key to safety (April 24, 2008)
Locksmith Scam (March 26, 2008)
Lock, Stock and Swindle?? (March 10, 2008)
Are You Locked In? (February 27, 2008)
Emergency locksmith companies can gouge you when you are most vulnerable (February 25, 2008)
CBS 46 Investigates: Lock Bumping (February 22, 2008)
Locked Out And Ripped Off? (February 18, 2008)
Undercover Locksmith Investigation (February 6, 2008)
The Great 'Locksmith' Swindle (January 31, 2008)
Avoiding A Locksmith Rip-Off (January 17, 2008)
Locksmith scam warning released (January 11, 2008)
Locksmith firms agree to correct addresses (January 3, 2008)
Nationwide 'Locksmith Swindle,' Says Better Business Bureau (January 2, 2008)
Locksmith Ripoffs (January 1, 2008)
Media / News Articles for 2007
Laws are key to cleaning up locksmith business (October 29, 2007)
Beware of Locksmith Swindles (October 29, 2007)
What's the Key to Finding Reputable Locksmiths? (October 19, 2007)
Locksmith scam may have hit Tucson (September 30, 2007)
Man sentenced for fraudulent locksmith scheme (September 26, 2007)
Some Locksmiths Cost Customers More Than They Bargained For (September 20, 2007)
Picking a locksmith at random could cost you (September 2, 2007)
Unlicensed Locksmith Enters No Contest Plea (August 30, 2007)
Some Bay Area People Fall For Locksmith Scam (August 22, 2007)
Locks myth (August 20, 2007)
Avoid Shady Locksmiths (August 9, 2007)
A dependable locksmith? (August 3, 2007)
'I feel like they ripped me off' (July 24, 2007)
Locksmith Imposters (July 19, 2007)
Locksmith scam makes a bad day even worse (July 19, 2007)
The Locksmith 'Mafia': Making an Estimate You Can't Refuse (July 18, 2007)
Call 4 Action: Out-Of-State Locksmiths Picking Local Customers' Pockets (July 17, 2007)
Locksmith trial set (July 14, 2007)
Locked out? Don't fall for this locksmith scam (July 13, 2007)
Locksmiths Pick Your Wallet (July 13, 2007)
Skepticism The Key To Avoiding Locksmith Scam (July 12, 2007)
Update: Unlicensed Locksmith In San Mateo County Jail (June 28, 2007)
Investigators Open Up Alleged Locksmith Scam (June 11, 2007)
CBS 5 Investigates Locksmith Scam (June 10, 2007)
Phony Locksmiths Fined (May 31, 2007)
Better Business Bureau Revokes Six Memberships (May 29, 2007)
Locksmith Investigation (May 26, 2007)
Putting The Lid On Law-Breaking Locksmiths (May 25, 2007)
Lawmakers Taking Action On Unlicensed Locksmiths (May 23, 2007)
Investigators: Door Jam (May 3, 2007)
Tips for Choosing a Locksmith (April 30, 2007)
Lousy Locksmiths (March 20, 2007)
Unlicensed Locksmiths Run Rampant In S.F. (February 28, 2007)
I-TEAM: Locked Out And Marked Up (February 19, 2007)
Scam Artists Pose As Locksmiths (January 25, 2007)
I-Team: Deceptive Locksmiths (January 22, 2007)
Media / News Articles for 2006
Locksmith overcharged her, woman alleges (December 28, 2006)
N.Y. locksmith firm fined -- city says scams continue (November 19, 2006)
Hank Investigates: Lock crock (November 6, 2006)
Mistrial in locksmith fraud case after 'attack' on judge (October 31, 2006)
...Suspends License of Dependable Locksmith for False License (September 26, 2006)
DCA Sting Nabs Unlicensed Locksmiths Working in the Bay Area (September 7, 2006)
Suspended locksmith at work? (September 4, 2006)
State suspends locksmith's license: Firm inflated prices (September 1, 2006)
Price Line Locksmith License Suspended (August 31, 2006)
Valley woman locks horns with locksmith company (August 21, 2006)
Locksmith Consumer Alert (August 12, 2006)
Don't Get Ripped Off By Locksmiths (July 24, 2006)
Locksmith pleads guilty to fraud: Man linked to N.Y. firm billed 67 (April 5, 2006)
City sues N.Y. locksmith accused of price-gouging: Firm accused of (March 16, 2006)
Locksmith Again Found Liable for Fraudulent Practices (February 28, 2006)
Scum Alert (January 18, 2006)
Gypsies, Tramps, & Thieves (January 11, 2006)
Media / News Articles for 2005
Scammer Locksmiths Alert (October 7, 2005)
Consumer Services Offers Tips for Hiring a Locksmith (September 9, 2005)
Locksmith Found Liable for Fraudulent Practices (September 1, 2005)
Unlicensed Locksmiths Strike Again (August 25, 2005)
State Investigates Renegade Locksmiths (August 19, 2005)
Consumer Alert: Unlicensed Locksmiths Strike in San Francisco (August 12, 2005)
Out-of-state locksmiths picking on locals (August 1, 2005)
ALOA (Associated Locksmiths of America) Guide For Consumers
San Diego Locksmith, serving the communities of: San Diego, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, La Jolla, Clairemont, Mission Valley, North Park, Kearney Mesa, Linda Vista, Scripps Ranch, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, Coronado, Del Mar, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Rancho San Diego, Encinitas, Escondido, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City, Poway, Rancho Santa Fe, Balboa Park, Horton Plaza, Grantville, San Carlos, Serra Mesa, Carmel Valley, Sorrento Mesa, Mira Mesa, Miramar, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos, Sorrento Valley, Otay Mesa, Encanto, Hillcrest, Mission Hills, Old Town, and more!
*(Please click here for a complete list of our coverage areas)
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