Tow Truck Scams: Tips to Avoid Roadside Fraud

January 5th, 2011
Typewriter letters that spell the word fraud

When you are caught on the side of the road and need assistance, be cautious of who comes to give you a helping hand. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported a 103% increase in referrals relating to towing and storage fees in 2010.  Towing-related scams, referred to as Bandit Tow Truck scams by insurers, are on a rise across the country, costing drivers thousands of unnecessary dollars.

Many incidents that put drivers on the side of the roads are unexpected, causing drivers to take immediate action to resolve the situations. Fraudulent tow truck companies are looking for these stranded drivers and offer then quick service at an inflated rate, some as high as $1,500 for a simple flat tire.

Tow truck scams may be avoided with some proper knowledge. Tips to avoid roadside fraud and the high costs associated with the scams:

  • Contact your insurance company about roadside assistance programs to avoid future scams or search on for insurance providers who offer such services.
  • Do not provide your personal insurance information to a tow truck driver.
  • Do not allow a tow truck company to bring your vehicle to any other location other than your home or your choice of an automotive mechanic repair shop to avoid any additional storage fees.
  • Use your insurance providers approved list of tow truck companies or contact your local AAA company.
  • Ask for a breakdown of the cost for towing before the vehicle is towed and only sign the detailed receipt, acknowledging the cost of the tow.
  • Only use tow truck companies if you have contacted them or they have been contacted by law enforcement. Tow truck companies looking to scam drivers, search for people in need, charging them high costs after they have been towed.
  • Study the signage on the tow truck and make sure the logos and advertisements match up to what you know.

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