Friday, Sept. 29

Regulators take action on unlicensed locksmiths          Send a link to a friend

Web resource created to protect Illinois consumers from illegal or fraudulent locksmith activities

[SEPT. 29, 2006]  CHICAGO -- The Blagojevich administration announced on Tuesday that it is taking a series of steps designed to protect Illinoisans when they need to hire a locksmith. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which regulates locksmiths, has noted a growing number of complaints about unlicensed locksmiths and has discovered that any identifiable address for these unlicensed businesses is sometimes located in another state and that the phone number that customers may call is, in fact, a phone switch answered in another city or state.

On Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation summarily suspended the license of Dependable Locks and its owner, David Peer, based in New York, for filing its license application with a fraudulent address that was not the location of its locksmith business and for failing to cooperate with the department in its investigation. Dependable Locks also failed to provide the department with a list of its licensed staff. Last month, the department suspended the license of Price Line, which was also based in New York. Both companies listed their businesses with Illinois addresses, advertised their businesses in phone directories, and used local phone exchanges and business names in their ads. A formal hearing on Tuesday's action is scheduled for Oct. 19 at 10 a.m. The department must schedule a hearing within 30 days of issuing a temporary suspension order.

When a customer called the local number, the phone call was transferred to an exchange in New York, where the order was logged and a worker was dispatched to perform the work. Illinois law requires that every locksmith agency employee have a permanent employee registration card or a locksmith license in order to do business as a locksmith. Also, each agency must be licensed under its own name.

"Illinois consumers have the right to expect that locksmiths are accountable to their customers and the laws of the state of Illinois," said Daniel E. Bluthardt, director of the Division of Professional Regulation at the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. "Through the actions we are taking today, we hope that unlicensed locksmiths will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

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"We need to ensure that the locksmiths who have access to our homes and businesses are professional and trustworthy," said Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent. “We depend on these individuals to provide a sense of security and a safe environment for our families. An unlicensed locksmith places the public at risk by potentially defrauding citizens through criminal acts against the person or his property."

The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has requested the assistance of law enforcement agencies across the state to help shut down these fraudulent businesses. The Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security and Locksmith Act of 2004 provides that unlicensed locksmith work can be prosecuted as a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense and as a Class 4 felony for subsequent offenses.

"When unlicensed companies take advantage of Illinois customers, the profession suffers," said Mike Bronzell, vice president of the Illinois Indiana Locksmith Association. "That's why our organization will be working to spread the word that locksmiths in Illinois must be licensed and held accountable for their work. We're pleased the department is taking aggressive action against unlicensed locksmith companies in Illinois, and we will continue to help consumers find out whether the company they call is licensed and in good standing in Illinois."

The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has created a special logo and Web resource to help consumers find out if the locksmith they are planning to hire is licensed by the state. Hardware stores and media outlets are also being asked to help stop the problem of unlicensed locksmith practitioners working in Illinois.

[Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation news release]

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