Tow Truck Schemes That May Hook Your Vacation

July 14, 2014

Motorists traveling this summer face the possibility of a break down or an accident. They also face the possibility of being schemed by a “tow truck bandit”. BBB says looking for red flags can keep you out of trouble.

It is difficult to be patient when looking for help after an accident or break down. There are dishonest towing operators, aka bandit tow trucks, which use drivers in need of help to benefit their wallets. The tow truck drivers offer people help with their car but then end up charging hefty fees for their services. Taking the time to find a legitimate tow truck business is worth the wait.

The BBB offers the following tips to avoid tow truck scams:

  • Be wary of unsolicited help. Don’t deal with tow truck operators who arrive on the scene unannounced. Don’t allow the operator to take your vehicle until you are given a printed invoice. This should include a listing of towing and daily storage fees.
  • Use the police as a resource. If there is a crash, call the police, and only accept help from tow trucks that are contacted by the police. If the police get a truck to tow your vehicle, don’t sign any additional paperwork from the company, as this could allow the company to add extra fees.
  • Know the cost. Ask upfront what the tow will cost and get pricing in writing.
  • Use the vehicle’s Assist call button. Many newer cars are equipped with an emergency call button that quickly connects you with a call center that can dispatch pre-approved service assistance.  
  • Don’t give out personal information. It is dangerous to provide insurance information to tow truck companies, since bandit tow truck operators could use this information for scams.
  • Choose where your car gets towed. Have your car towed to your home or at a repair shop of your choice. This prevents additional fees. Some scam artists take cars to an impound lot instead of a repair shop, which can result in extra storage fees.
  • Use your smartphone. Go to to find an accredited towing company that you can trust.

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For 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB more than 100 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 114 local, independent BBB's across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.


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