Towing scams can be a major headache for drivers, especially if you’re in a vulnerable situation, such as a breakdown or accident. To avoid becoming a victim of a towing scam, it’s important to be aware of the common tactics used by scammers and know your rights as a consumer.
- Be aware of predatory towing: Some towing companies will patrol parking lots looking for cars parked illegally or violating a parking policy. If your vehicle is towed from a private lot, the towing company may charge exorbitant fees for the tow and storage of your car. To avoid this, read parking signs carefully and be aware of parking restrictions before leaving your vehicle.
- Know your rights: Under the law, towing companies must give you a written estimate of the charges for towing and storage before they tow your vehicle. They must also release your vehicle to you once you’ve paid the charges. If they push you on this, this is certainly a red flag, and you need to be careful.
- Get a second opinion: If you’re unsure about the charges being levied by a towing company, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion from another towing company or your mechanic. They will be able to tell you if the charges are fair and reasonable.
- Never pay upfront: Never pay for a tow or storage charges upfront. Some scammers will demand payment before they’ll release your vehicle, or they’ll insist on payment in cash.
- Keep the contact number of a reliable towing company on hand: It’s a good idea to keep the contact number of a reputable towing company in your phone or glove compartment in case you ever need it. This way, you’ll know you’re getting a fair price and good service.
- Always look for licensed and insured companies: Ensure the towing company is licensed and insured. This will protect you in case of any accidents or damages to your vehicle during the towing process.
- Do a quick check online: Any reputable towing company will have some sort of web presence. Whether that is a website or a landing page, you can find a Google My Business account or Reviews that can tell you if this is a legit company. This may be a red flag if you do not see any web presence.
- If you do not feel comfortable, refuse service: If you are not feeling good about things, make sure to refuse service. If a towing company is reputable, they will move on with their day. They will keep pushing if they are a scam, so you should contact authorities as soon as possible.
By following these tips, you can avoid falling victim to a towing scam and ensure that your vehicle is towed safely and at a fair price. Remember, it probably is if something seems too good to be true. Trust your instincts, and don’t hesitate to get a second opinion or call the police if you suspect a scam.