The Today Show recently aired an investigation where they went undercover, rented a suburban house in New York, and in the course of two days they uncovered more than a few locksmiths trying to run a scam. The Today Show hired a professional locksmith ahead of time to install a simple key-in-knob lock on the door and show us how easy it is to pick in minutes.

These so called locksmiths don’t even try to pick the lock. One guy breaks in with a crow bar, another pries the knob off with heavy duty pliers, and a couple choose to drill the lock out. They would rather destroy it than try to pick it, that way they can sell you another.

Many of these shady locksmiths advertise emergency services for cheap prices- as low as $15. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! These so called locksmiths don’t try to pick the lock, they prefer to break it off or use a drill to destroy it. That way they can make more money off selling you unnecessary hardware. One of these guys even demands his bill to be paid in cash, and insists on driving this scared, timid lady to the bank.

It’s unfortunate, but many states do not require background checks or licensing for locksmiths. The actions caught by the Today Show of some of these so called locksmiths are startling. Not only trying to scam innocent people, but going so far as to intimidate and demand cash so there’s no record of the event. Some of these criminals are even using fake addresses for their business, like churches or abandoned buildings, so they’d be harder to catch.

Thankfully, there are a few ways to prevent this from happening to you. You should ask for a quote in writing before they start working. You should also make sure they can accept a credit card, that way you’re money can’t just disappear. And lastly, do a little research, check out reviews on google places and websites such as yelp, or even ask your neighbors and friends if they know a trusted locksmith they can refer.