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Locksmith Scams – How to Spot a Rogue Locksmith (6 Red Flags & Warning Signs)

Locksmith Scams - Red Flags Hiring a Locksmith How to Spot a Rogue Locksmith Prevent Being Scammed

If you are looking to hire a locksmith, there a some warnings signs you should be aware of before hiring a locksmith, to avoid being scammed by a rogue locksmith.

Our guide below will cover some major red flags & warning signs to look out for when searching for a locksmith near you and prevent you from potential hiring a rogue locksmith.

We are the UK’s largest locksmith association, read on for our expert advice.

Avoid Locksmith Scams with our Red Flag Warning Signs

1. Locksmith Google Adverts Stating from £39 / £49 / £59 Price but charging a lot more!

The number one sign of a rogue locksmith is usually a very cheap advertised price at the top of search engines – the price we have seen is normally £39/£49 or £59.

How to Spot a Rogue Locksmith advert

A typical bait and switch rogue locksmith advert will likely consist of the following:

  1. Cheap Advertised Price be wary of from £39 / £49 or £59 prices
    – We have found these are the prices rogue locksmiths are promoting
    – The locksmith will usually charge significantly more upon completion of any work.
  2. Paid Ads The first positions on Google are often adverts & will have the word ‘Ad‘ before them.
    – Ads have been paid for and are not organic results which are further down the page after Google business listings.
    – Anyone can pay to have an Ad
  3. Nationwide Problem Rogue locksmiths also turn their adverts on and off to appear in ALL areas of the UK and at certain times of the day.

If a low price looks too good to be true then more often than not it will be!

The locksmith bait & switch price scheme is a major problem in the industry currently, resulting in customers being charged over £500 for a simple job such as a lock out.

What is Locksmith Bait & Switch scheme
Overcharged? How to Complain About a Locksmith

What a Rogue Locksmith Advert MAY Look Like

Below is what a typical rogue locksmith bait and switch price advert looks like on Google:


The above rogue locksmith advert will draw in desperate customers with it’s cheap £39 price point.

Bait and Switch Price – The final price is highly unlikely to be £39, we have seen some customers ending up with bills over £500 for a quick lock out job where a cheap initial price was promoted on advertising material.

A genuine locksmith will have no problems with providing a rough price quote based on details you provide.

Locksmith Prices Guide
Locksmith Call Out Charge Guide

This brings us onto the 2nd red flag to look out for, after clicking on their Google advert their website will sometimes make claims of 3rd party approval.

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2. Claims of 3rd Party Approval / Certification / Accreditation

One of the other most popular red flags to look out for when hiring a locksmith are false claims of being certified, accredited or incorrect claims of being DBS checked.

After clicking the Cheap £39 / £49 / £59 Google advert the website usually makes false claims.

Look out locksmiths making false claims of the following:

  • Locksmith making false claims of being Approved or Certified by a trade association
  • Locksmith making false claims of being Vetted by a 3rd party
  • Locksmith making false claims of being DBS checked

Red Flag Hiring a Locksmith - Locksmith false accreditation claim 3rd party approval

We come across many false claims of MLA Approved Company status, which is why we recommend verifying your locksmith is a full Master Locksmiths approved company.

As the MLA logo is trademarked we can take action against incorrect use,  false claims of being MLA approved is also against the consumer protection from unfair trading regulations.

Genuine Locksmiths will Provide Details of Accreditations

A legitimate locksmith company with genuine 3rd party approval will gladly provide you with the details of their accreditation, most will link through to their 3rd party accreditation profile as proof.

Find a mla licensed locksmith
How we licence MLA approved locksmiths

3.  Locksmith Claims to be Police Recommended or Work with Police Force

Another red flag is if the locksmith claims to be Police Recommended.

A rogue locksmith will usually claim the following:

  • Police Recommended – the Police do not recommend locksmith companies, the Police MAY advise using an MLA approved locksmith due to the vetting process our locksmiths go through, the Police are highly unlikely to recommend a specific company though.
  • Police Approved Locksmith – There is no such thing as being a “Police Approved Locksmith” – the Police DO NOT approve locksmiths!
  • Work with MET Police – The MET Police are aware of locksmiths making these false claims and falsely using their logo.

Genuine locksmiths may carry out locksmith jobs for the Police though, but they will not claim to be Police Approved or Police Recommended.

Are locksmiths Police approved or vetted?


4. Locksmith: Subcontractor or Direct? Contacted a Call Center?

An additional red flag to be aware of when calling a locksmith is the use of subcontractors, this is often a clear sign the locksmith is not local and indeed a nationwide company/call centre you are phoning.

It will typically be the case that subcontractor details are not known or shared when you contact a rogue locksmith, and if this is the case, please be wary.

Questions to ask a potential rogue locksmith:

  1. Name of locksmith? Who will be carrying out the work, do you have the name of the locksmith?
  2. Are they are a Subcontractor? Ask if they are subcontracting the work.
  3. If a subcontractor Ask for the name and contact details in case any problems arise.
  4. Who are you paying? Find out who your contract is actually with and who it is that you are paying.

Price questions to ask a locksmith

5. Is the Locksmith Vague on the Phone about Price Details?

A genuine locksmith should be able to provide a quote for the job either over the phone or by email, as long as they know details about the job.

Red flags of a rogue locksmith prices on the phone are:

  • Very vague about price details on the phone
  • Keeps mentioning a low price on the phone (e.g £39/£49/£59, very common low price points)
  • Unable to give accurate price quote for the job e.g price of specific lock, cost to unlock your lock


Read our locksmith price checklist below and don’t be afraid to ask for more information on pricing.

Locksmith price checklist

6. Locksmith Attempts to Drill Your Lock 

Always be wary if a locksmith immediately attempts to drill to open your door lock, as a skilled professional locksmith will normally try other, non-destructive methods first.

Sometimes drilling a lock is the only way to open a lock though.

Warning signs if a locksmith uses a drill:

  • 1st attempt to open your lock is by drilling the lock
  • Drilling is usually a last resort for skilled locksmiths


A locksmith will normally only use a drill if the lock is broken beyond repair or if the lock will need replacing anyway (e.g. keys stolen)

Should a locksmith drill my lock?

Summary on Spotting a Rogue locksmith

The red flags to look out for when a hiring a locksmith are:

  1. Cheap Google Advert Price usually states from £39 / £49 / £59
  2. False Claims of 3rd party approval and accreditation, always check any claims of being vetted/accredited by 3rd parties
  3. Claims of being Police Recommended or Police Approved
  4. Refusing or unable to give the locksmiths name usually indicates a call centre subcontracting work.
  5. Vague on Pricing only mentions low price in advert refusing to give further info
  6. Wants to Drill lock as first attempt to gain entry

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Useful Reading

Why use a MLA Approved Locksmith?

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Vetted Locksmith
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Our Locksmiths are criminal record checked.
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Locksmith Inspection
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Our Locksmiths are Regularly Inspected.
How we inspect our locksmiths

Locksmith Qualification
All our Master Locksmiths are criminal record checked


Our Locksmiths have passed the MLA exam.
Read about MLA Exam here

Vetted Locksmiths In the UK

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