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Southeastern Virginia & Northeastern North Carolina
Car Break Downs and Accidents Can Be Scam Opportunities, Better Business Bureau Advises
July 12, 2013

– July is a popular month for driving vacations and other road trips. Unfortunately, driving can sometimes mean breakdowns or accidents, which can lead to towing. If these problems occur and your car needs to be towed, the Better Business Bureau recommends being cautious to avoid tow truck scams.

When you are in trouble, it might be a relief to see a tow truck coming behind you, offering help. However, dishonest towing operators, aka bandit tow trucks, prey on drivers who need assistance. The tow truck drivers offer people help with their car, but then end up charging hefty fees for their services.

“There are many dishonest towing operations that take advantage of drivers in stressful situations," said Steve Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Before agreeing to any service, make sure you get all the details up front especially as it relates costs.”

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.
  • 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.

For more information on tow truck scams, visit www.bbb.org

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As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.