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Published On: Mon, Sep 26th, 2016

How to Avoid Towing Scams

Every driver knows the frustration of having their car break down. A dead car battery, overheating radiator, accident, or any number of causes can force you to have to contact a towing company. While the best case scenario would be to prevent an emergency from happening, it is important to always be prepared for unavoidable emergencies. The best way to be prepared for an emergency that may require you to call for a tow truck is to know how to avoid towing scams.

 

  • Know the Local Laws Regarding Towing

 

photo/ ClkerFreeVectorImages via Pixabay

photo/ ClkerFreeVectorImages via Pixabay

Every community has laws about towing. For example, many areas make it illegal for towing companies to drive around looking for parking violations. Some companies will simply tow away a vehicle when there was no legal reason for them to do so. Others will tack on charges, gate fees, storage fees, release fees, etc. that are illegal under state law. These companies assume that people will trust them, and unfortunately, most do without a thought. If you know the laws in your area, you can be protected and use your knowledge to show scam artists that they can’t fool you.

 

  • Control Where Your Vehicle Goes

 

Towing scams may insist that they tow your vehicle to a certain location for services. Towing companies are not legally allowed to do this and should be able to tow your vehicle wherever you want it to go. If the company you’re working with will not do this, send them on their way and call a different company.  

 

  • Be Wary of Abnormally Low Pricing

 

Abnormally low pricing is often indicative of a scam. Be aware of what the going rate is for towing services in your area so that you aren’t taken in by a deal that seems too good to be true (and probably is).

 

  • Be Wary of Hidden Fees

 

Some towing companies will charge you extra “hidden fees.” These fees could include daily storage and administration fees, which can be unscrupulously hiked up to charge you more money. You should be able to request an itemized description of all services to be provided before the car is actually towed, and you should be able to agree to that price in writing before any services are given.

 

  • Avoid Unsolicited Towing Companies

 

Be very wary of tow truck drivers that show up unannounced. In many areas, it is illegal for towing companies to even do this, but the average driver is unaware of this fact. Only work with a company that you have personally sought out.

 

  • Do the Research

 

Learn whatever you can about your towing company before you let them service your car. Find out how long the company has been in business, read reviews, and ask for as much information as possible. If you’ve taken the time to do this before you need a tow, you’ll be much better off when an emergency comes up.

 

  • Know Your Coverage

 

Your insurance company will have a policy on what coverage they may provide for roadside assistance or towing services. They may also have a specific towing company that they will work with. Know your coverage so that you can save yourself as much money as possible.

 

  • Get Everything in Writing

 

Get everything the company tells you in writing before any services are provided. You should also have an agreed-upon price in writing before the service is provided.

 

  • Check All Identification Markers

 

Everything from the technician’s nametag to his paperwork to his tow truck should be accurate and identify that he is legitimately working for the company you have called for service. If something does not add up, trust your instincts. Call the police if you feel unsafe.

 

  • Don’t Give More Information Than Is Absolutely Necessary

 

Towing companies do not need your insurance information. If they ask for it, don’t give it. Instead, tell them you will have your insurance company contact them directly if it is really necessary.

Every industry has people who use their skills to scam or take advantage of customers, and the towing industry is no different. While a reliable, professional tow company is full of honest, hard-working technicians, some companies do whatever they can to swindle you. Follow these suggestions to protect yourself, your vehicle, your personal information, and your bank account from towing company scam artists.

Author: Salit David

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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