Angie's List: Hire a reputable locksmith with a legal business name

LEWISTON, ID - If you're locked out of your home or car, a locksmith can be your lifeline, but make sure you hire a reputable one.

For most homeowners, there are a few life events that call for the services of a locksmith. When you're moving into a new home and when you've accidentally locked yourself out of your home or car.

"Beware of locksmiths that show up in unmarked cars and not in a company uniform and if you ask for ID they fail to deliver it," said Angie's List owner Angie Hicks. "If any of these scenarios happen you should choose another locksmith."

Be wary of companies that answer calls with generic phrases like "locksmith services," rather than a specific name. If a locksmith can't provide the business' legal name, find another locksmith.

"The best way to protect yourself when hiring a locksmith is find one before you need one," said Hicks. "All too often we hire a locksmith in an emergency situation. Oftentimes we'll skip out on research. Find a company you're going to use and tuck that number away in your wallet so you always have it handy."

Get an estimate before any work begins. Ask about extra charges for things like emergency hours, mileage, or service call minimums before you agree to have the work performed.

"You can look at anywhere between $60 to $120 average, but again some big cities you're going to find it more than that," said locksmith Barry Campbell. "Nighttime service can be more. Like I said, it varies quite a bit for lockout services."

If you're locked out, be cautious of companies that recommend or insist on drilling or replacing the lock up front. Most experienced locksmiths have the skills and tools to unlock almost any door.