If you are trying to find a licensed locksmith or safe technician in California or in another state that requires licensing by using GOOGLE search, regardless of what other search terms you enter, try adding "licensed" to those search terms. Scammers don't like giving the authorities any reasons to come after them, and advertising as licensed when they're not is a trigger. You may get fewer results with "licensed" in your search, but the chances that the firms that show up in the results will be legitimate and local are much greater.
Another trick is to avoid using the "Standard Industry Code" (SIC) in your search. The SIC code is used by call centers when submitting to search engines. Real locksmiths and safe technicians rarely think to do this. For example, when I enter "Safes & Vaults opening and repairing Orinda, CA" (SIC category for our industry) Google returns many, many more results and with considerably more scammers included than if I simply type "safe vault Orinda, CA" and even less advertising and scammer results if I add the word LICENSED to those search terms.
Not all locksmiths and safe technicians have a local, neighborhood shop. Some are totally reputable, long-time business merchants in your area, but offer mobile service only. Not having a local shop isn't necessarily an indicator that the service provider is a scam artist. In the safe and vault service business, there are few clients that bring their large and heavy safe into a shop for service. Besides, one of the tricks that these locksmith scammers have come up with is hijacking legitimate locksmith's addresses for use in their own advertising, but substituting their own local or 800 phone number. You call expecting to talk to a local business and you end up talking to a call center in the Bronx or in Las Vegas. It's best to keep a record of the legitimate business's contact info, especially for emergencies, rather than using the yellow pages or an internet search to locate a legitimate business.
Seems to me that the best way to figure out whether you are talking to a local business on the phone is to ask where they are located and to verify the owner's name and business address. If you hear hemming and hawing or there's a wait while the "operator" looks that information up, you may be dealing with one of those New York or Las Vegas Call Centers, aka "boiler room operations". If you suspect that you are, ask the operator where "they" are located. If it's not in or even close to your town, take a pass and move on to the next listing.
I understand that personal referrals may not be possible under some "emergency" situations, but a referral of a locksmith or legitimate safecracker that comes from a friend or business associate is like gold. When you do find a good locksmith or safe-tech, keep their number and other contact info where you can find it if and when that emergency does occur.
Barring a personal referral, the best and easiest way to find a Safe & Vault Technician is to use the free Safe and vault technicians association's SAVTA Safe Tech SEARCH by going to the link (below) and entering your zip code and how many miles around where you live or do business you'd like to search. These results can be from 10-100 miles or any distance away, but any distance returns too many results and far away services often charge travel time for long distance jobs.
SAVTA Technician SEARCH
I'm not sure if the following tip will be of any help in weeding out the scammers in your area or not, but it seems that the ones I've discovered when doing various GOOGLE searches in my area frequently have names that indicate that they are available anytime, fast or cheap, i.e. AVAILABLE Locksmiths, Dependable Locksmith, (City-name) 24/7 Locksmiths or AAAffordable Locksmiths, etc. and frequently have multiple listings, often with identical toll-free numbers, as well as providing local number, in some cases. This is by no means a hard and fast rule or anything, but it's certainly something to watch out for.
I do hope this information gets included in GOOGLE searches and that the general public finds it useful when they are trying to find reputable locksmiths and safe technicians, but also want to avoid being ripped-off by predatory scam-artists.
© 2008-2017 by Ken Doyle - The Safecracker
Telephone: +1 (415) 519-3401
ADVANCED Safe & Vault
San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California
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