Joe Flyzik knew something was wrong when he started getting SuperPages phone books to his business address on behalf of another locksmith.
Wilson’s Hardware and Locksmiths by any other name is a scam.
For months, Flyzik has received phone books and even letters to 1800 Locksmiths, AAA Locksmith, and 8Locksmith.
Contact Locksmiths in the phone book, and you’ll find Wilson’s Hardware and Locksmiths at 217 W. Main St. in Lansdale. But there are also 1800 Locksmiths and AAA Locksmiths at the same addresses.
“I started thinking, ‘What the hell is going on? ‘All of these 1-800 numbers and special numbers use my address,’ said Flyzik. “I think it is absolutely irresponsible of the phone company to print out my address and put my address in the book for a company that doesn’t exist.”
What really brought it to light was a recent customer call at the store to say how unhappy she was with the locksmith service.
Flyzik answered the call. He said she told him she called a locksmith, saw the address at 217 W. Main St., and assumed it was a local business.
She told Flyzik that she called a locksmith to take her to her apartment and received an offer. A man showed up three hours later in an unmarked white van, drilled out its lock, and opened its door.
“When he got there, he told her it was a hard lock and charged her more – $ 400. He went and never made a new lock on the door; He never secured it, ”said Flyzik. “I told her we don’t do that, we don’t drill that. We’ll pick it up and bring you in, and if for any reason the lock broke we would never leave you unsecured. “
Flyzik then began to do some research. He discovered that this fraudulent locksmith business – a gypsy business – is a nationwide epidemic.
“It’s a problem when these gypsy locksmiths, these companies, put ads in phone books and call people. It then goes to a downtown New York City and a guy usually shows up in an unlabeled car or truck. They send them in from New Jersey and they come in and it’s a total rip off, ”said Flyzik. “It hurts legitimate locksmiths.”
The problem has gotten closer to home than you think, especially recently.
The Pennsylvania attorney general just hit a locksmith company in Abington with a consumer protection lawsuit.
The office filed a lawsuit against Always In Service Inc. on Old York Road in Abington for using more than 16 fictitious company names, more than 300 phone numbers, and numerous different advertisements to mislead consumers into believing them the attorney general’s office dealt with a local business.
The indicted were Guy Halperin, President of the Philadelphia company; Treasurer Yuvall Attoun of Newtown; and Secretary Rafael Mohar from Philadelphia.
The company provided locksmith services and installed security systems, windows, doors, and garage doors in Philadelphia, Allegheny, Bucks, Beaver, Berks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Northampton counties.
Recently, the North Carolina attorney general banned five individuals or companies from offering or providing services in the state for using bait-and-switch tactics to demolish local residents. They were also ordered to pay fines totaling $ 1.245 million.
So why choose locksmiths as a fraud business? Flyzik said it was easy prey. The same thing happens with the plumbing and electrical industries.
“The homeowner, the individual or the homeowner is scared, they are locked out and want to get in and it’s late and they are vulnerable,” he said. “They call the 800 numbers and show up, drill the lock and charge $ 100, $ 200, $ 300. You take over these people. “
Last week Adam Mort, a certified locksmith who works at Wilson’s Hardware and Locksmiths, had to re-key the locks for a Telford woman. He said it was mistaken for a brand new lock by a fraudulent locksmith.
“She called one of those numbers and a man showed up with no ID. She told him she had to re-encrypt the locks and he looked and said they couldn’t be re-encrypted, ”said Flyzik. “That is an absolute mistake: every lock can be re-encrypted.”
He said she didn’t trust the guy when he left; He didn’t give her the keys to her lock when he put the new lock on the door.
“I got a call on Friday and the first question was, ‘I deleted your name from the phone book. Are your trucks labeled and do you have a shop front and do you do an in-store service? ‘I said, “Thanks for asking.” I wish everyone would have done that. It would take those gypsy locksmiths out of the picture. “
The reporter called 1800 locksmiths to find out why they were posting deals under Wilson’s Hardware and Locksmiths.
A call to 215-647-9726 resulted in a message that the call could not be completed as dialed.
Another call was made at 215-647-9725, which was announced as the second contact number for 1800Locksmith at 630 Cowpath Road.
There’s no 630 Cowpath Road, at least according to Montgomery County land registrations. The same goes for the A1 Emergency Locksmith at 850 Valley Forge Road – there is no such address.
A recording notified the caller to press one for emergencies, two for locksmith services, and three for all other services. Pressing three took the caller to a menu instructing them to press 4 if you were not a telemarketer. This led to a menu where you could press one for Operations Manager, two for Accounts Payable, three for Major Issues, or four for Company Directory.
The company directory listed names like “Jacob G.”, “Joseph B.” on. and “Patricia C.”
By pressing a manager button, the caller listened to Muzak before hanging up a message to hang up and call 1- (800) LOCKSMITH, extension 2, or stay on the line and leave a message. That 800 number resulted in a message that was also recorded when calling the original 215 phone number.
A message was left asking you to contact the newspaper to find out why the company is using the Wilson’s Hardware and Locksmith address for its business. A call was not returned at the time of going to press.
According to Flyzik, locksmiths in Pennsylvania don’t need to be licensed or certified.
Flyzik and Mort are Associated Locksmiths of America certified, and the company is liable and insured. And like teachers, locksmiths are trained and developed further. Flyzik and Mort do just that through the Greater Philadelphia Locksmith Association.
“Make sure everyone you do locksmith work with is insured and has a Pennsylvania contractor license required for each contractor. But it’s not specific to locksmiths, ”said Chris Flyzik, co-owner of Wilson’s Hardware.
Flyzik has been a locksmith since 1972. He graduated from the Schlage Lock Company in San Francisco on May 27, 1971. At that time he was working as a fitter for Krupp, Meyers and Hoffman in Lansdale.
He bought Wilson’s hardware in 1984 and brought his metalworking knowledge with him.
Mort, 31, joined Wilson as a locksmith when he was 14.
“Locksmiths are hurt by fraud,” said Mort. “The gypsy companies beat people for the short profit. They’ll come out and take you in, but what condition did they leave your lock in? In what condition did you leave your bank account? “
“When people tell me that this guy was here with this and that…. I know Adam and I am the only two, ”said Flyzik.
Wilson’s doesn’t just do locksmith work; You can install anything from locks to door closers to exit devices. Today the company serves private and business customers, including Colorcon and almost all apartment complexes in the region. They also do high security businesses.
“We do a lot of support for master keys for apartment complexes,” said Flyzik. “If you’ve lost all of the keys to your house and didn’t want all of the locks to be re-encrypted, we can create a key to unlock everything. We only need a key number or the number from the lock. “
They also duplicate car keys and unlock car doors.
“We cut car keys by code. We have four to five code cutting machines and our vans are also equipped with key cutting machines, ”said Flyzik. “You’d be amazed at what we can and can’t do.”
The next step in reducing fraudulent locksmiths is to educate the consumer.
When dealing with a locksmith like Wilson, all they have to do is call 215-855-6876 24 hours a day.
“The locksmith industry has been fighting this for a number of years,” said Flyzik. “We have to let people know to be careful who they are using. Many are out there to demolish the public. “