Sunday, December 19, 2010, AM | 5 Comments
As always, I was researching for a topic to write my next post on. Winter is upon us. I came across an article that warned of tow truck scam. I was not aware that some tow trucks are on the look out for stranded motorists on the nations’ highways, especially when it’s snowing heavily.
These tow trucks come out seemingly from nowhere and offer help to the motorists who at the time are frustrated, angry and just plain “vulnerable” and ripe to be taken advantage of.
The operators of these trucks charge more than $1,500 that is not uncommon for them. In some cases, motorists have been charged $2,000 for a less than 10 mile towing.
Your insurance may or may not cover such high towing charges. So talk to your agent. Before you get scammed, be skeptical and take precautions.
Remember many folks still believe in the American dream whether they want to make money honestly or scam others for their money. It’s a free country, ain’t it?
In heavy snow, your brand new car is not much help
Even if you have a brand new car, the weather in winter is unpredictable to say the least.
If it’s snowing heavily and you can’t see much through the windshield, then you are advised to pull over and stop to avoid accident.
The nasty weather keeps pounding the white stuff all over and around your car. You can start the car but because of the snow you can’t drive.
No matter how new your car is, you need towing help at some point. Here comes a tow truck, offers you help, tow your car to a safe place, asks you how you want to pay, you take out your credit card and hand it over and he charges you $1,500 for less than 10 mile towing.
Why? Because the guy offered you help and you accepted it. Why didn’t you call your own towing service like AAA or another such service?
So you may have forgotten to carry the membership card in your wallet. Or worse you thought you had a brand new car and you didn’t need one and nothing was gonna happen to you.
Well, now is the time to think again and get your road service membership and keep it in your wallet.
Allstate is one insurance company that has warned not only its customers but has blogged about how to prevent these kinds of exuberant charges so that everyone can benefit from these suggestions.
Prevent the tow truck scam
Here I am just going to repeat what Allstate has on its blog with some variation of wording of my own:
When you call your road service, it asks for your location and then it will contact the nearest towing service to come and help you.
If you plan to travel outside your state, it is advised to have membership with a nationally recognized service.
Try to use a towing operator who has been screened by your motor club or roadside assistance program.
Never give a tow truck operator permission to take your car if you or law-enforcement personnel did not call the operator. Just stay in the car til your “own” service arrives.
In no case should you provide your insurance information to a tow truck operator.
You have no choice but to trust your membership service because that was your own choosing. Make sure all the signs on the truck and the documentation provided are identical and consistent.
Whenever possible, have your car towed either to your home or a repair shop of your choice to avoid storage fees or additional fees.
According to Allstate, scam artists may actually take the car to an impound lot, and not a repair shop, resulting in high storage fees.
Make sure you receive a printed price list that includes daily storage fees and miscellaneous charges as well as printed documentation of where the vehicle will be towed.
And make sure you sign below the dollar amount quoted, not necessarily the bottom of the document.
Why? According to Allstate, some tow truck drivers may encourage the driver to sign the bottom of an agreement without a finalized towing price and “back fill” the invoice with miscellaneous fees and charges.
The scammers and the scums and the schmucks are in every business, so be so aware of them.
- In order to avoid the above, have membership for towing in a nationally recognized service which has membership deals all over the country with affiliated shops in many states. You might pay extra but it would be worth it.
In a Nutshell
If you run into problems on the road this winter, you should be wary of tow trucks you didn’t call that offer to help. Share your experiences with such tow scams below in the comment area and any advice you may have to help other drivers.