Most towing companies and tow service providers operate with integrity and follow the letter of the law. However, this is not always the case. The term “predatory towing” refers to tow service providers who use illegal or unethical methods to maximize their profits. Some of the more common predatory towing tactics include “satellite” towing, in which the tow provider removes cars illegally parked on private property. Usually, the company also has a “spotter” at that location who calls the tow company when they see a potential tow. Here at Fife Service & Towing, we’re proud to serve Tacoma without taking advantage of our customers. Reputable towing companies don’t engage in predatory or illegal towing. Here are a few ways to protect yourself from illegal towing:
Tow providers who operate in an illegal or unethical manner tend to take advantage of people in stressful situations such as a car accident. However, there are a few things motorists can do to avoid scams.
One of the most important things people can do to protect themselves from predatory towing is to learn the local law and ordinances concerning towing services. This knowledge can help you avoid expensive travel time fees charged by unethical tow companies.
Before parking in an unfamiliar lot or in a location you’ve never parked before, make sure to read all signage posted at the entrances and exits of the lots. Usually, these signs will inform motorists of parking restrictions. Reputable towing companies tend to post visible, clear signage at properties where they provide tow services.
If involved in a car wreck that results in the immobilization of a vehicle, make sure to call the insurance company or tow service provider directly. A common tow scam involves a tow truck showing up to accidents without being called to take advantage of stranded drivers and charge exorbitant fees for their services. Make sure the tow company’s truck matches the same company name provided by an insurance agent.
Reputable tow service providers will tow your vehicle to any location of your choosing. Be wary of any tow service provider that states otherwise or tries to get you to tow the car to their shop. You have the right to choose.
While rarer than targeting individuals, some predatory tow companies target businesses as well. In this tow scam, con artists pose as tow truck drivers and call businesses to inform them of an incoming car due for repair or other services. Then, the scammer fills out paperwork and hands over “keys” to the vehicle. The business pays the towing fee, thinking the insurance will reimburse them. However, in this scam, there is no car; the keys aren’t to anything at all, and the scammer takes off with the money.
If you’ve already fallen into a tow scammer’s trap, there are a few things to do:
The first thing to do if you believe a predatory towing company has towed you is to check the local ordinances and see if the tow company violated any of them. If so, you can file a complaint with local law enforcement.
If you believe that the charge for tow services is unfair, you may be able to dispute the charge. Most tow service ordinances state that fees must be “reasonable” and per other tow companies in the area.
While the amount of money may not be enough to warrant the hiring of an attorney, you can still speak with legal counsel to understand your rights and the process of small claims court if you choose.
Predatory tow companies give the rest of us a bad name. Rest assured that we here at Fife Service & Towing value our customers and their belongings, and we are proud to serve Tacoma with high-quality emergency tow services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call today to get started!