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Tow Truck Scam is Legal and Costs Car Owners Thousands

You’ve heard of ambulance-chasing attorneys, how about accident-chasing tow truck drivers?! Here’s a warning about a legal tow truck charge scam that can cost you thousands of dollars.

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Imagine being in an accident and finding out that the tow for your damaged car costs more than your ER visit. That is exactly what is happening today as news reports of ridiculously high tow charges are brought against accident victims who cannot reclaim their car until they cough up $10,000 or more in tow charge fees.

Predatory Tow Truck Practices

In a recent Steve Lehto YouTube channel episode we learn that towing businesses are making a killing by discovering they can charge pretty much whatever amount they want when it comes to towing your car following an accident.

The problem is two-fold. One, despite of the number of incidences related to towing companies using unfair practices in their day-to-day business dealings with car owners immediately following an accident, reforms to control out-of-control tow truck operators have failed to be effective. Two, car accident victims are unwittingly signing tow charge agreements (sometimes even blank ones) at the scene of an accident because they believe that they have to agree to having their vehicle towed immediately.

This episode stems from a recent KDKA CBS News, Pittsburgh report about a car owner who discovered shortly after having her car towed following an accident, had accrued over $10,000 in towing fees. Worse yet, her car insurance would not cover the inflated towing charges leaving her to come up with the money on her own in order to retrieve her car.

How outrageously high towing charges are tallied is through an itemized accumulation of overly inflated charges related to the towing such as recovery fees, gate fees, storage fees, paperwork processing fees, etc.

Here is a video about the news story followed by Steve Lehto’s legal take on the problem:

Drivers charged thousands of dollars to get cars towed

Crazy $10,000 Towing Bill

Tips for Avoiding a Tow Charge Scam

To avoid becoming a victim of this legal scam, here are a few tips to protect yourself from inflated towing charges:

  • Never, ever sign a blank tow charge agreement.
  • Insist that the cost of the tow and related services are listed in the agreement before signing.
  • Ask the police or first responders for a city assigned towing service.
  • Do not get into an escalating confrontation with a tow driver, multiple news stories report violence can occur.
  • If the tow vehicle does not have a clear business name and contact number info printed on its side, stay away from it as it could be someone posing as a tow truck operator when they are actually looking to steal your car.

For an additional article related to avoiding a high tow charge, here is an informative article titled “Car Will Not Start? Here’s What to Do with These Easy DIY Fixes.”

By the way, during this winter driving season, consider the difference between the all-season tires vs winter tires for your vehicle, and watch this video from the Torque News YouTube channel.

Timothy Boyer is an automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on  “Zen and the Art of DIY Car Repair” website, the Zen Mechanic blog and on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites  and Facebook for daily news and topics related to new and used cars and trucks.

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Image source: Deposit Photos

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