You get up and get out the door. But there's just one problem - you don't have your keys! It may not happen very often, but when it does, you need help fast.
So you start looking online. There are hundreds of locksmiths to choose from. We did a little calling ourselves recently and were surprised by what we found.
While we waited for the crews to arrive at our house, we set up three hidden cameras - one across the street, one inside the house and one near the front steps.
Vincent Parker played the role the locked out homeowner.
First, a guy calls from a Kansas phone number saying he is with '24/7 Locksmith.' On the phone, we're promised a $15 Internet special, but that price quickly changes.
"The service call $15, but $95 will get you in," the technician said. "$110 total."
The guy showed up in flip flops, street clothes and an unmarked car. He never asked for proof that Vincent actually owned the home. He even said that he wasn't required to be licensed.
He tried for 30 minutes, but could not unlock the door.
Next, someone from 'One and Only Locksmith' returned our call from a Tennessee number. We were quoted a $19 service fee.
This guy arrived without a uniform or company logo on his vehicle. He said he charged $75 to open the garage or $150 to open the front door.
Vincent said, "I'd rather go through the front door if I possibly can."
But the technician headed to the garage anyway. He slipped his hand through an opening and opened it in a matter of seconds.
Once again, there was no request for ID or any proof that the home really belonged to Vincent.
The third company, 'Pop A Lock,' gave us a higher quote of $60. Thomas Robertson arrived in a company shirt and company vehicle, complete with an Alabama license number printed on the side.
He refused to open the door.
"I asked the gentleman for his license to verify proof of ownership of the house," Robertson said. But when Vincent's driver's license and the home address did not add up, "there was nothing I could do."
Robertson admits that some locksmith companies are not verifying addresses. He says it's probably an attempt to take advantage of customers who are locked out and desperate.
"The consumer is stranded for hours and willing to spend the money instead of doing more research," he said.
Experts say the best thing to do is to ask to see a locksmith's license from the Alabama Electronic Security Board of Licensure or AESBL.
[WEB EXTRA: Here's how to contact the AESBL]
"They should be looking for an Alabama license number on the vehicle and a state identification card," Robertson explained.
And as for the different price quotes we received, Robertson said, "there would not be any price to go up unless there is an additional lock."
[WEB EXTRA: Warning from Alabama's Attorney General]
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