As a wholesale supplier to locksmiths and security professionals, we do not like to hear of fraud within the industry. The locksmith industry is one of, if not the, oldest industry. There are a lot of honest and hard working locksmiths in this world, and the bad ones tarnish the industry.

An excerpt from Detroit Free Press

Locksmith scam a new twist

Locks are supposed to keep the crooks away — or at least make them work harder. So who would imagine that there’s a locksmith scam out there?

Stop Fake Scammer Locksmiths

If you need to change the locks, say you just divorced or someone stole your purse with your house keys, be extra careful when shopping for a locksmith. Some con artists advertise super low prices on the Internet, show up when you call, disassemble the lock and then say they’re going to have to charge far more than advertised.

“And here you are without a functioning lock now,” said Susan Grant, director of consumer protection for the Consumer Federation of America in Washington, D.C.

The locksmith scam is just one of the many ways for someone to pick your pocket — and your lock — these days. Keep an eye out for these scams:

  • Crooks love passing bogus checks, so they are hitting mailboxes and grocery carts.

Fraud experts warn that some metro Detroit areas are seeing an uptick of checks being stolen from the mailbox outside of the house. The homeowner writes a check to the electric company and trustingly leaves the envelope for the mail carrier.

Bad move. The crook gets the envelope first, then tweaks the check — maybe even making the amount bigger — and cashes it.

Stick to electronic bill pay, automatic bill pay or mail bills directly at the post office.

Nationwide, con artists known as the Felony Lane Gang ripped off IDs and checkbooks in Nebraska, Alabama, Illinois and elsewhere. The Detroit area Mad Hatters — a group of older women who wore hats — snatched wallets or checkbooks out of purses at supermarkets last year. Sounds simple: But don’t leave your wallet or purse in your car even when you make quick trips.

  • Fraudsters can scam you with a financial aid pitch, too.

Parents and students need to be skeptical about websites and schemes for quick-fix financial aid. The pitch could be tempting as students head back to college and wonder how to pay the bills. Some deals promise a money-back guarantee, but the Better Business Bureau said there are so many hoops that it’s often impossible to get a refund.

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org and FastWeb.com, said students shouldn’t be paying $3 or $5 or $50 for a chance at a scholarship. Some of those deals are outright scams, where no scholarship money is paid. Others, he said, might pay out some scholarship money but raise thousands of dollars more in fees than the amount that is paid out to students.

Don’t send money to pay taxes upfront on a so-called scholarship, either.

  • Don’t lose sleep — and money — over a bogus tax lien.

Some fraudsters are targeting elderly people and students and frightening them into thinking they must address a tax lien. The Internal Revenue Service noted that the schemers can charge victims $5,000 or more to settle bogus federal tax liens. The IRS isn’t initiating contact by using Facebook or texting you.

  • The dirty secret about some so-called mystery shopping jobs is that you lose $1,000 or more.

Lately, fraud experts report some consumers have gotten caught after finding a secret-shopper job online and then receiving a document that includes logos from big-name retailers, such as Walgreens and Wal-Mart.

“It looks pretty official,” said Dianne Shovely, vice president at Comerica’s fraud services office in Auburn Hills.

It’s fake. The scammers also send a fake check, say for $1,983.25. The shopper is to spend $100 or so at a time at a store and report on the service and the product. Then, the shopper is to wire back $1,280 and keep the rest.

Well, it’s all a scam.

“They’ve sent you a counterfeit check,” Shovely said. You wire back money and you’re out what you spent shopping — and the money you wired back.

  • A store-bought prepaid card is a new twist in some scams.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office reported as part of a consumer survey that one man was asked to put $416 on a prepaid card and send it off to stop calls reportedly from the Legal Department of Florida that claimed he owed money on a payday loan.

But the calls kept coming. So he did more legwork. His payday lender said he only owed $390. He discovered the caller had no connection to the payday loan company. The consumer agency contacted the prepaid card issuer and found out the money was still on the card, thanks to a glitch. The man was able to get his money back.

Another person, according to the survey, stopped an elderly man at a store from putting $500 on a prepaid card so he could send it to someone and claim a $1-million prize in return.

“They really don’t understand what they’re doing is sending cash to someone who is untraceable,” Grant said.