Vehicle Unlocking Services under Advertisement Heading of “Locks & Locksmiths”

December 2, 2020

August 30, 2006
The department has received complaints that some towing companies are advertising in the Yellow Pages or similar publications under the heading of “Locks & Locksmiths,” or substantially similar headings.  Such advertising is in violation of the Private Security Act, Chapter 1702 of the Texas Occupations Code.

Under Section 1702.1056 of the Occupations Code, “advertising services using the term ‘locksmith,’ constitutes “acting as a locksmith company.”  Such advertising by a person not licensed by the department as a locksmith constitutes operating without a license, and is a violation of the Act. See Tex. Occ. Code. §§1702.103; 1702.2225. 

The violation of Chapter 1702 is a Class A misdemeanor.  §1702.388.  In addition to seeking criminal sanctions, the department is authorized to file a civil lawsuit in Travis County against those who engage in unlicensed activity, and may seek a civil penalty of $1,000 per violation and costs associated with the bringing the lawsuit.  See §§1702.381.  The department intends to pursue both criminal and civil prosecution in cases in which we determine that an advertising contract using the term “locksmith” has been executed by an unlicensed company, in violation of Chapter 1702.

The department would emphasize that Chapter 1702 does not require licensing in order to operate a tow truck or to simply unlock a vehicle for the vehicle’s owner.  However, companies may not advertise such activities by using the term “locksmith”.

In the event that the publisher of the advertisements insists on using the “Locks and Locksmiths” heading, to the exclusion of an additional heading for “Vehicle Lock-out Services,” for instance, we would recommend the insertion of a disclaimer to the effect that the provider is not a locksmith and is not licensed by the department.