WRAL Investigates

State licensing board cracks down on phony locksmiths

Posted February 15, 2010

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— The North Carolina Locksmith Licensing Board is stepping up enforcement of regulations on locksmiths, even filing fraud charges against three operators of a Raleigh firm.

Three operators of A1A Locksmiths were charged in recent days with using unlicensed people to perform locksmith services in Wake, Durham and Guilford counties, according to arrest warrants.

Fake locksmiths caught on hidden camera Unlicensed locksmiths could pose safety concern

"We're trying to send the message that it's no longer acceptable to practice without a license in North Carolina," said Kevin Seymour, chairman of the state licensing board.

A WRAL News hidden-camera investigation last April showed how unlicensed locksmith businesses use deceptive tactics to run up the price on consumers. One woman saw a $35 fee to get into her house quickly balloon to more than $400.

The investigation prompted a flood of complaints to the state Attorney General's Office. Attorney General Roy Cooper then filed suit against three companies that each operate under numerous names in an effort to shut them down.

"They are scamming the public," private investigator Lee Denney said of unlicensed locksmiths.

The state licensing board hired Denney to go undercover to document cases where unlicensed locksmiths gouged customers.

"I found this from Wilmington to Winston-Salem to Charlotte," he said.

Dan Eisner of A1A Locksmith said his company is getting a bad rap, but he offered little defense to allegations his employees were unlicensed.

"Hopefully, this will draw attention to where it needs to be drawn. Right now, the attention's on us. Hopefully, we'll clean it up," said Eisner, who surrendered to police Monday on fraud charges.

His sister, Netta Eisner, and her husband, Roi Gershon, were charged over the weekend.

Seymour said the licensing board is getting involved in the situation because of the public safety threat posed by unlicensed people gaining access to homes and vehicles.

"A person on one of these calls who is unlicensed, you don't really know who they are," he said.

Officials urged consumers who call locksmiths for help to verify the business address of the company and ask the person who shows up to display his or her North Carolina locksmith license. Most legitimate locksmiths also use marked vehicles and wear uniforms, officials said.


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  • WXYZ Feb 16, 2010

    DO NOT ask for an "estimate" for a job. Have them make a COMPLETE list of ALL hardware and ALL tasks to be performed, with an itemized price for each, with a FIRM grand total. Make sure your CONTRACT states that THEY will not charge extra for ANTHING which THEY missed during the job write up; and which should be done, will be done; and, that EVERYTHING THEY DO, will be thoroughly, completely and correctly, or THEY WILL RETURN and FINISH THE WHOLE JOB at NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE. Make sure your contract includes a STRONG guarantee and warranty, which covers EVERYTHING (e.g. parts, labor, travel etc) for at least 12 months from the date the project is COMPLETE. DO NOT PAY THEM until the WHOLE job is COMPLETE and you at inspected and tested EVERYTHING for proper working order. I have been ripped off by the 2 oldest LOCKSMITH companies in Raleigh...I learned my lesson the hard way.

  • aspenstreet1717 Feb 16, 2010

    License? So what. Get a written estimate and if they try to rip you off call the police.

  • htomc42 Feb 16, 2010

    I still don't understand how having a government "license" means that one is automatically competent as a locksmith, or anything else. Whether or not one has bureaucratic blessing has nothing to do with one's abilities.

    This issue has nothing to do with the fraud. Prosecute fraud as fraud, no matter who does it.

  • putsomethoughtinit Feb 16, 2010

    How about the Locksmith companies verify their employees are licensed? That seems to be the most logical solution...

  • Nunya123 Feb 16, 2010

    Wow. There are 7 people associated with the NC locksmith licensing board to monitor 100 counties and over 8 million people. How exactly would you like them to monitor all 8 million people to see if they are performing locksmith services? Seems to me it should be the responsibility of the lock owner to make sure those performing the service are licensed. Can't have that though, that would require people to take responsiblity for something themselves.

  • xandevalinour Feb 15, 2010

    "We're trying to send the message that it's no longer acceptable to practice without a license in North Carolina," said Kevin Seymour, chairman of the state licensing board.

    wow....someone needs to lose their job

    how many other jobs requiring licenses has this guy allowed to go unchecked.

  • oldrebel Feb 15, 2010

    So in other words the licensing board hasn't been doing their job up to this point? Why not clean house, toss them to the curb and get some people in there that will do their job without the shove from bad press in which the media pointed out the deplorable state of affairs?

    Fire them all, get some new people in there that don't take having such a job as an entitlement.

  • brand7976 Feb 15, 2010

    This is just another example of a corrupt trade organization petitioning/bribing the government to stamp out unwelcome competition. In return I'm sure the state gets a hefty cut of the "licensing fee".

    Crooked businesses, crooked trade union, crooked politicians.

  • affirmativediversity Feb 15, 2010

    We have a "State Locksmith Licensing Board"??? How many people are on it? How many employees? What have they been doing with their time up to now?

    and most important...HOW MUCH DOES THIS COST TAXPAYERS???