• Casa Grande Locksmith

Contact Victor Aguilar for locksmith service and queries. Victor Aguilar is rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau. He has 25 years of experience as a commercial locksmith.

Anonymity: The Defining Characteristic of Criminals

If a locksmith showed up at your door wearing a ski mask, would you hire him to re-key the locks on your house?  Probably not.  But, if you do not know his real name and the only contact information that you have for him is the number to a call center in New York City, then he might as well be wearing a mask.  You really have no idea who he is.  If he strong-arms your grandmother into paying thousands of dollars to re-key her house or he walks off with your wife's jewels, how are you going to find him?  Do you think the call center in New York City is going to provide you with this information?

By following these eight simple rules, you can be assured that you are dealing with a legitimate locksmith:

  1. Never dial an out-of-state or toll-free telephone number.  No legitimate locksmith wants or needs a call center in New York City answering the phone for him.  We have cell phones.  The only reason a modern locksmith would employ an answering service is to create a cloak of anonymity for himself.  Twenty years ago, before cell phones were invented, all locksmiths employed answering services.  If it has been this long since the last time you hired a locksmith, you may remember talking to an answering service and then waiting for the locksmith to call you back.  But it is not 1990 anymore.  Today an answering service, especially one out of state, is the #1 sign that you are dealing with a criminal organization.

  2. Never call a locksmith that uses Google Adwords. These are the paid ads that appear above or to the right of the natural listings on a Google search. U.S. West Dex has a service where they run a Google Adwords campaign for a business and automatically change their telephone number and business name every few days; the new telephone numbers (called market extension lines) automatically forward to the businessman's land line or cell phone, which is never revealed to the customer. Obviously, the only reason anyone would pay Dex to do this, rather than manage their own Adwords campaign, is because constantly changing one's telephone number requires visiting a cell phone store every few days to get a new SIM card, which costs money. But, thanks to Dex, shady businessmen can now change their identity more often than they change their underwear!

  3. Never use a directory of locksmiths, even if it has a local number. Google is a directory; there is no legitimate reason for a locksmith to allow another directory to insert itself between him and the customers. locksmithnearyou[dot]com charges $20 per call so, at the very least, you know that you are paying an extra $20 for service. Also, the locksmiths on this directory are given a new telephone number that forwards to their own, so they have achieved anonymity, which is a bad sign. Also, only a criminal would agree to pay $20 for every call because legitimate locksmiths anticipate turning down calls from people asking them to help with burglaries; criminals will open any building for any body and thus anticipate accepting every call. Is this really the type of person you want rekeying your house?

  4. If 411 connects you to a locksmith, ask the person who answers the phone what his name is. The telephone company will list anybody in the White Pages without checking to see if a company with that name already exists.  Some Chicago gangsters took advantage of this by getting themselves listed in the White Pages of cities all over America using the names of existing, well-established locksmiths.  They did not pay for any advertising but, whenever a customer called 411 to get the number of a locksmith that they had used in the past, there was a 50-50 chance of their call being forwarded to the mafia.  So, if 411 connects you to what you think is a locksmith that you have used in the past, but you hear a heavily-accented voice that you do not recognize, just ask the person on the phone to state his name and the name of his business.  If he says, “I'm the locksmith you called,” but refuses to actually give his name or the name of his business, then you are talking to the mafia.  Hang up.

  5. Never reveal your home address until AFTER you have agreed to do business.  A legitimate locksmith does not need to know your address until you have agreed to hire him and are ready to make an appointment.  If you want a time estimate, he will need to know what neighborhood you are in (outlying suburbs have slower response times and, if you are too far out, he may decline the job) but he does not need your exact address to estimate his arrival time.  Criminals, on the other hand, always insist that you reveal your address first before they will discuss prices or anything else with you.  Why?  Because, the moment that they learn your address, they send a technician out to your house.  Then they stall you with vague answers to your questions about prices until you hang up on them.  You call half a dozen locksmiths and finally decide to call one of them back to make an appointment because he sounded the most legitimate and gave you direct answers to your questions about prices.  The legitimate locksmith tells you that he will be there in an hour and, five minutes later, your doorbell rings and some guy says, “Hi, I'm the locksmith you called.”  If the man on your doorstep refuses to tell you what company he works for, then he is a criminal.  Don't let him in.  If he refuses to leave until you give him money, then call the police.

  6. Ask a locksmith (or any service person) to show you his driver's license.  No legitimate businessman will refuse to show you his driver's license.  Honest men are proud of their name (mine is Victor Aguilar) and will not hesitate to tell you what it is, first and last.  But criminals get really squirrelly when you make this simple request.  By the same token, be prepared to show the locksmith your driver's license.  I will not open a house for someone until they have shown me picture identification and an official document with their name and the address of the house that I am to open.  You have to worry about criminals posing as locksmiths, but I have to worry about criminals posing as homeowners.  If you are being squirrelly and I choose to leave, do not follow me to where my car is parked in the street.

  7. Never hire a locksmith that does not have a price list on his website.  Almost all locksmith work is standard jobs with standard prices.  In particular, opening a car should always be the same price, regardless of the make and model.  Of course, locks fail in a variety of ways, so repair jobs usually cannot be quoted over the phone.  (I've had people tell me that a lock of unknown manufacture feels “kinda sticky” and then expect me to quote the job to the penny over the phone.)  But, in most cases, your lock does not need to be repaired.  It is doing exactly what it is designed to do: denying entry to anyone who does not have a key.  The problem is that you are now one of those people, because you either lost your key or locked it inside.  Provided that you have not modified the lock or damaged it with your own clumsy attempts to open it, there is no reason a locksmith should charge you more than he quoted the job at. For example, one company advertises $15 for car lockouts but, if you ask for the total cost, they reluctantly tell you the labor charge is $35 and up. What does "and up" mean? They are going to "examine your locking mechanism" to determine how hard (and expensive) it is to open. Bottom line: It is going to cost you about $150 to have these people open your car - fully ten times their advertised price.

  8. Never hire a locksmith who is not bonded and insured.  Insurance is for accidental damage.  If the locksmith accidentally knocks over an expensive vase and it shatters, his insurance policy will reimburse you.  A bond is also a type of insurance, but for criminal damage.  To get bonded requires a background check.  If the locksmith steals your vase and is convicted of the crime, his bonding agency will reimburse you – and he will never be bonded again.  Unlike California, the State of Arizona does not license locksmiths.  Arizona locksmiths who include the word "licensed” in their advertisements are not actually referring to anything.  (ALOA is a training institute, not a licensing agency.)  If you don’t believe me, ask the Arizona Attorney General for their list of licensed locksmiths and they will tell you that there is no such list.  So don’t be suspicious because my advertisements do not contain the word “licensed.”  I just don’t believe in trying to dazzle people with words that do not actually mean anything. For example, the company mentioned above that advertises $15 and actually charges $150 proudly claims, "We are certified, licensed and insured." The first two words are meaningless and "bonded" is conspicuously absent - probably because he is a felon and no bonding agency will touch him.

  9. Always consult the BBB before hiring a locksmith.  When you click on the BBB logo on a locksmith's website, it should link to his page on the BBB website. If the logo is not a link, he probably just pasted in the graphic and is not actually a member of the BBB - this is fraud and should be reported to the Arizona Attorney General. Also, check his rating (mine is A+) because some people with F ratings still pay for membership so they can display the logo in the hopes that nobody will actually click on it.

One final note: Some customers are hesitant to hire a locksmith who is not driving a big white van with his company logo painted on the side. However, those big vans only get 10 mpg.  When gasoline went over $4.00 per gallon, a lot of legitimate locksmiths (myself included) started using their personal cars whenever possible.  I have had the same $20 trip charge since I started my company in 1996 [edit: I raised it to $40 in 2011], when gasoline sold for less than a dollar a gallon.  I could not do that if I was still taking my big van on every job.  So do not get stressed out if a locksmith shows up in an economy car.  He is not trying to be anonymous, he is just trying to save gasoline.  As long as he is willing to show you his driver's license, then the little car should not cause you any concern about who he is.

This screen shot is an example of a scam site.

A pipe wrench??? If the 866 telephone number does not tell you this is a scam, nor the fact that their advertisements claim they do emergency lockouts for $15, an impossibly low price, nor the fact that they are neither bonded nor insured, then the pipe wrench should be a big clue!

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