If you’ve ever locked yourself out of your car or home, you know what a hassle it can be. Your first thought is to get someone to help. And if that someone ­– a family member, neighbor or friend – can’t deliver a spare set of keys, your next call probably is to a local locksmith.

What’s the best way to pick a reputable – and local – locksmith? Do the research before you need one – the same way you would a plumber, electrician, or other professional – and then program his or her number into your phone. That’s one of several useful tips from the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, in ‘The Keys to Hiring a Reputable Locksmith.’

The FTC says that some locksmiths advertising in your local phone book may not be local at all, and that others may not have professional training. Find out how to hire a legitimate local locksmith at:

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit http://www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.