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Slam the door shut on dodgy locksmiths

Consumers who need to use the services of a locksmith are being urged to check that the person they hire is licensed.

Commissioner for Fair Trading Victoria Thomson said that Queenslanders need to be aware that locksmiths must be licensed under the Security Providers Act 1993 (SPA).

“You might be locked out of your house, your car or your businesses and in a rush to get back in, but it is very important you engage the services of a legitimate locksmith,” Ms Thomson said.

“Unfortunately, there are some dodgy tradespeople out there who rely on the fact that most consumers either aren’t aware of the licensing requirements or who, in their haste to get back into their car or premises, don’t take the time to check.

“People in vulnerable circumstances should especially check to ascertain whether the person they are calling is licensed or not.

“In many cases, dodgy operators charge exorbitant fees for a less-than professional job, often causing damage to the property or vehicle. They become difficult to contact after they leave, causing the consumer to be out of pocket and having to find a genuine locksmith to rectify the work.

“However, the most worrying issue for these consumers is they have given unlicensed, unchecked and unscrupulous traders access to their home, business, or vehicle.

“If you ever find yourself in need of a locksmith, do your research and double check their credentials to ensure a quality and safe job is done. You can do a free licence search on the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) website.”

The Commissioner said that only people who meet training and probity requirements can hold licences to work as locksmiths. Applicants undergo fingerprinting and criminal history checking to ensure only appropriate people are gaining access to people’s homes, businesses and vehicles.

Last year the OFT undertook 21 investigations in relation to locksmiths, with many in the industry working unlicensed and leaving consumers out of pocket due to poor workmanship.

“An investigation in 2020 led to enforcement action being taken against an unlicensed locksmith after receiving a complaint from a licensed locksmith,” Ms Thomson said.

“His locksmith business had a similar name to an unlicensed locksmith who was damaging properties and vehicles in the Greater Brisbane area.

“This licensed locksmith was contacted by several disgruntled people who believed it was his company responsible for the shonky work and led the OFT to investigate 21 possible unlicensed locksmith businesses who were advertising their services on social media, the internet and Google maps.

“Investigations subsequently identified a ring of unlicensed locksmiths who were constantly changing their advertisements to evade complaints about their work and the law.”

Here are the OFT’s tips when hiring the services of a locksmith:

  • Do your research before engaging a service provider, particularly when searching online.
  • Check they’re licensed using the OFT’s register.
  • Ask for the locksmith’s licence details - at the time of booking and when they attend your address.
  • Make sure you get the name and contact details of the locksmith.
  • If there is anything that doesn’t add up, cancel the job immediately.

Locksmiths in Queensland are licensed as security equipment installers under the SPA. For more information on security equipment installers licenses, or to make a complaint, please contact the OFT online at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or on 13 QGOV (13 74 68)