Last year, the Los Angeles Police Department and the National Insurance Crime Bureau issued a warning for consumers to beware of tow truck scams. Unauthorized tow truck operators also commonly referred to as bandit tow operators, has become a pressing issue in recent months. These deceptive towing companies prey on drivers at their most vulnerable moment.
How can you recognize a tow truck scam and avoid getting led into the “lion’s den” by these companies?
Signs of A Tow Truck Scam
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Bandit tow operators appear right when you need their services. Crooked tow truck operators usually arrive unsolicited on the scene. The operator searches for individuals who are having car trouble or who may be stranded on the side of the road and in need of a tow. They may even tell you that they were just passing by. These bandit tow companies even go as far as monitoring the police radio so that they can be the first on the scene of automobile accidents.
Dishonest tow operators charge exorbitant fees for their services, in many instances they even refuse to return the individual vehicle if payment isn’t issued.
How to Avoid Getting Scammed
Falling prey to bandit tow companies can leave you with a hefty inflated bill or without your vehicle. How can you avoid getting scammed by these two operators. Here are some tips you consider if you find yourself needing a tow.
Avoid using an unsolicited tow operator. If you didn’t make arrangements for that specific towing company to tow your automobile, don’t use their services. Never allow the operator to pressure you into using their services.
Don’t give a tow operator any of your insurance details or any other personal information such as who holds the lien to the automobile.
If you were in the accident, contact the police first. You can seek advice from the officer on the scene on the legitimacy of the tow company or they can recommend a tow operator.
Make sure the tow and storage fees are clear before signing a tow release form or invoice. Before the operator takes off with your vehicle, ensure that the towing price is clear.
What to do if you have been scammed?
If you have fallen victim to a tow truck scam, know that you have rights as a consumer. If you were charged over inflated fees, you can file a claim against the towing company with the Better Business Bureau and with your independent insurance company.