Many of us believe we are somewhat educated and that we won’t get scammed the way we read about in the news or see on television. The problem is that we can all be vulnerable at one time or another, and that’s exactly when our guard is down and we can be prone to the unexpected scam. Imagine how frustrated or anxious you would be if your car broke down or you had an accident, and you see exactly the situation the towing scam works to take advantage of.
How can getting a tow be a scam?
A tow driver may recommend towing even when it is not necessary, may have padded fees over what is the norm in the area, or may recommend a specific garage without being asked for a recommendation. Often, in the latter case, the garage may be paying the tow driver to bring in business and the consumer may pay padded fees on both sides.
This kind of tow driver may be referred to as a bandit, or a chaser, and in fact, there have been reality television shows following legitimate tow drivers who run into these chasers while they are out on calls. People who have dealt with them often complain that they are pushy, and even aggressive about getting the tow job.
How can you be sure you aren’t being scammed?
Municipalities from the GTA to the Greater Hamilton Area require drivers to post a municipal licence number inside their vehicle. If a tow driver can show you this, at least you know they have been vetted by the region.
Reputable companies may also be affiliated with a roadside assist group or automobile association. If you’re covered by any kind of vehicle repair and service plan, you want to ensure you select one that is approved.
Pay attention to any advice you are given that you haven’t asked for. Some municipalities have actually put bylaws in place to prohibit tow drivers from making such recommendations. And, in the case of an accident, some municipalities also require vehicles be towed to collision reporting centers or police stations, before they are taken to be repaired. In other words, if you’re a driver, before you hit the road, you should know the municipal bylaws regarding towing and accidents.
If you’ve called for a tow, the chances are better that the tow will be legitimate, in part because hopefully you’ve called someone your insurance company has recommended or someone you’ve vetted in advance. At the very least, you know they’re there because you called them. Beware the tow driver who miraculously appears to save the day. This may be exactly the kind of driver who ‘chases’ business
The fine print
While it is still up to you to read anything before you sign, the Consumer Protection Act has put into effect some requirements that you should be aware of. These include requiring tow companies to post rates in their shops and on any website, they may have. They must also provide a detailed invoice outlining the services you have received, and they must advise if you if they are in any way connected to a garage or repair shop they are recommending.
You should also know what your insurance policy covers and requires. There may be specific authorized service centers for both repair and accident situations.
In the spirit of bottom lining things: always be suspicious. Unless you’re calling a company you’ve previously dealt with, or dealing with a tow driver you know, a little caution goes a long way. Don’t give out personal information. If you are uncomfortable, ask them to leave, and if they refuse to leave, call the police.
Of course, the best way to prevent scams is to be prepared: know what your insurance covers, know if there is a company they recommend, and if not, do some research and vet a company in advance and then keep that number handy, just in case.
This article has been presented to you as part of a service provided by Dynamic Towing