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Tow Truck Scams Are a Bigger Problem Than You Think

Tow truck drivers offer an invaluable service as they can rescue your vehicle when you need it most. While most are honest, hard-working people, tow truck scams have been on the rise in recent years.

These types of illegitimate businesses will take advantage of you, and you may not even know it’s happening until it’s too late.

The reality of tow truck scams

No one ever thinks they’ll be in an accident. When it does happen to you, you’ll often need the aid of a tow truck. But in recent decades, more tow truck companies are taking advantage of everyday driving.

Though the cost the using a tow truck service varies greatly, some businesses charge thousands of dollars for a tow or to release your vehicle afterward. In addition to the towing fee, tow truck companies may also charge you daily storage fees and more.

Since people need their cars daily, some less-than-honest companies will charge whatever they want for the service. These scammers get away with it because there are no regulations in place.

What’s worse is that these tow truck companies may lure you into their scams without you knowing it. Some tow truck drivers will wait for an accident to happen, arrive without the solicitation of anyone involved, and insert themselves as the only immediate option for a tow. Since you’re in need of desperate help, you agree.

This is when these scammers could have you on the hook for thousands of dollars. According to Fraud Guides, there are also “bandit” tow operators, which will monitor “private parking lots in order to tow away vehicles.” These operators will then claim you were not a patron of that business.

With more and more situations like this occurring across the country, what’s being done to ensure Americans don’t get scammed by tow truck companies?

Tracking tow truck scams

The National Insurance Claims Bureau (NICB) claims there “has been an uptick in towing-reform legislation by states and municipalities” across the country.

Many law enforcement officers, government officials, and experts have met in recent years to build coalitions tasked with combating these tow truck scams. They hope to not only crack down on fraudulent behavior by tow truck companies but also begin the steps for better regulation.

Ways to protect yourself from tow truck scams

Though you may be shaken after being in an accident, it’s important to stay calm and remember there are ways to protect yourself against scams. According to NICB, here are a few things you can do to avoid being scammed by tow truck drivers:

  • Do not give permission to an operator who shows up unsolicited to tow your vehicle. If he/she was not called by law enforcement or another driver from the scene, do not deal with them.
  • Do not give any operator important information regarding your insurance or lien.
  • Ask tow truck operators for company identification and ensure all signage matches all documentation. If the company’s legitimacy is in doubt, call the police.
  • Be sure to ask for and receive copies of all signed paperwork, as well as a printed price list before the company leaves with your vehicle.
  • If the driver becomes agitated or unmanageable, do not put yourself in harm’s way. It is best to get law enforcement involved.