The Difference Between a Real Locksmith and a Phoney One

There are a number of what I choose to call “phoney locksmiths” operating in North America today, in the Hamilton-Burlington area alone there are more than a dozen. These phoney locksmiths share at least seven things in common.

Legitimate Mailing Address

Firstly, unlike a real locksmith that has a legitimate business mailing address like a home, office, or shop, a phoney locksmith works out of his car and typically rents a mailbox at a post office. They do this because they want show up on Google Maps in order to trick potential customers into thinking that they are a local business when in reality they are based in Toronto or, in some cases, out of province.


Secondly, unlike a real locksmith that drives a marked service vehicle and/or wears a branded uniform, a phoney locksmith drives an unmarked vehicle and does not wear a uniform that displays a company name or logo. It is important to note however, that many locksmiths, including myself, drive unmarked service vehicles. We do this because home evictions, employment terminations, and court-ordered repos require it. Unlike phoney locksmiths though, we always wear a company issued uniform while working.

Business Card

Thirdly, a real locksmith always travels with business cards, a phoney locksmith does not.

Formal Training

Fourthly, unlike a real locksmith that has undergone formal training and an apprenticeship, a phoney locksmith typically flies by the seat of his pants, making mistakes along the way, mistakes that locksmiths like myself are then called in to fix.

Speciality Tools

Fifthly, a real locksmith owns a wide variety of speciality tools, including a key cutter. A phoney locksmith tries to get by with just an air-wedge, a long-reach rod, a drill, and a wrench.

Firm Quotes

Sixthly, a real locksmith gives a potential customer a firm quote before arriving on site; a phoney locksmith on the other hand, does not. For a car or house lockout for example, over the phone a phoney locksmith will say that his trip charge is $15 and that his labour charge is $45. When he arrives on site however, he will try to gouge his customer out of $120 or more.

Professional Affiliations

Finally, a real locksmith is a member of his local locksmith association, the Associated Locksmiths of America, or the Safe and Vault Technicians Association, and/or is an authorized dealer of a reputable high security lock like Medeco, Mul-T-Lock, or Schlage Primus. A phoney locksmith on the other hand, is not a member of a recognized trade organization and usually only installs knock-off high security locks like US Star.

I hope that the above will help you identify what to look for when hiring a locksmith, so that you, unlike so many others, will not be victimized.