Over the past few months the number of calls received from the general Public and from Members of the Association in relation to so-called “Locksmiths Scammers” have increased dramatically.
Both A Current Affair in Australia and FairGo in New Zealand have covered this issue on National television in an effort to inform the public. International local news programs (US) and security related groups on Facebook (UK) are also publishing information around this issue.
Due to existing regulations in Australia and New Zealand, and the different approaches by the various authorities in both countries, the MLAA is limited to reporting the action by scammers to these relevant authorities (SLED, the ATO, the Office of Fair Trading, etc).
In an effort to better educate the public, and to make more people in Australia and New Zealand aware of such scam activities, the MLAA has developed the “Beware of Locksmiths Scammers” campaign.
This campaign will run for at least 5 months, and it will utilise the connections of the over 700 Master Locksmiths to raise awareness, publish information and to answer questions from the community.
In addition, the MLAA will distribute information to its industry and other partners, and to the professional public. The MLAA will also publish details about the scam on its website and social media channels, and it will use its non-industry connections to help increase the reach of this campaign.
If you have any question about the scam, or if you would like to order promotional material, or to help us to distribute flyers and posters, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with the MLAA Head Office.
The scam builds on the immediate need for an emergency locksmith e.g. after a consumer has lost the keys to their house, has locked the keys inside their car, has been burgled, etc.
Because of good positions (or prominent advertising) in the search results of Google the consumer finds what he believes is a legitimate locksmiths business page. Even though most of these scammer websites are .com domains (not .com.au) the content is optimised to appear as locally relevant as possible, featuring local maps, local copy and a local phone number.
The main “selling point” of the scammers is the very low price that is published in the search results and on the website.
When a consumer calls the phone number provided they usually get directed to a (foreign) call centre. This call centre then promises to send a “locksmith”. The person sent is usually unqualified, unskilled unlicensed and uninsured. They arrive in an unmarked vehicle, and they do not provide any identification. This person will pretend to try opening the door, but in most cases they will destroy the lock (and sometimes the whole door), before fitting a new, low-quality lock, and charging the consumer an exorbitant amount (in some cases up to $800).
Payment is demanded on completion of the job, and an illegal, unbranded invoice is provided. Instances of threatening and intimidating behaviour have been reported.