In an accident? Here's how to avoid getting ripped off by the towing … –

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You hope it never happens to you, but if you’re involved in a serious car accident, there’s a good chance your car will be towed. And if your car’s being towed, you might also be vulnerable to predatory towing.
Here’s how it works: After an accident, police officers can call a towing company for your car. However, they may not always choose the most reputable places. Most operate from a master list of towing companies and pick whichever one is available to arrive on the scene.
Some towing companies (even some in Utah) take advantage of the situation by charging higher-than-normal fees. Once an accident victim goes to pick up their vehicle at the tow yard, they can be slammed with a giant bill they didn’t expect.
Since that’s the last thing you need on top of the pain and expenses you’re already dealing with, it’s important to be aware of these shady tactics so you can protect yourself. Here’s what you need to know about predatory towing — and how to avoid it.

Watch out for this scam tactic

In 2020, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that many unsuspecting drivers in Chicago and Houston were being scammed by deceitful truck drivers. After an accident, scammers would have drivers sign blank documents to authorize the tow and then charge extra fees because the signature served as authorization for the charges. Some crooked companies even collaborate with auto body repair shops to charge for services that aren’t performed or aren’t necessary.
Writing for Insurify, JJ Starr warns, "If a towing company is insisting on doing something with your car that you believe is illegal, refuse to have your car towed. There are other towing companies that can do things the right way. If it feels ‘off’ to you, the chances are that it is."
Just remember — a reputable towing company should put you at ease and be able to answer any concerns you have. If something seems questionable, question it.

Do this before your vehicle is towed

The NICB has several recommendations for avoiding fraud after an accident. First, never allow an unsolicited vehicle to tow your car. Check to make sure that the truck’s signage matches any documentation they provide and ask for company identification. If possible, request a towing company that contracts with your insurance — and don’t just take someone’s word that they do.
Before they tow your vehicle away, make sure the company provides a printed list of fees and miscellaneous charges as well as documentation about where the vehicle is being towed.

Have your car towed directly to a mechanic or body shop

After an accident, towing companies typically take cars to one of three places: a salvage yard, an auto body shop or a mechanic. The more ground the tow truck has to cover, the more you’ll end up paying, so your best move is to have the car taken directly to a mechanic or repair shop. You can ask the tower to take it to a location of your choosing. If they’re adamant about driving it to a specific destination, that’s a red flag that you may be dealing with a predatory tower.

Save your receipts

Depending on your insurance provider, your towing costs may be covered, so save those itemized receipts! They’ll come in handy if you need to dispute any charges that exceed the local limits.

Be familiar with the law

As with most things, education is the best defense if you hope to avoid towing companies taking advantage of you. Knowing the allowed rates for towing, storing and handling can help you determine if you’ve been overcharged. The towing fee limits are set by the Utah Department of Transportation and depend on the weight of your vehicle.
According to the Utah Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Towing, you have the right to file a complaint if you believe you’ve been overcharged or if the driver, truck or company violates regulations. To file a complaint, visit the UDOT website.

Seek legal advice if you need help

If it comes down to it, you can always seek legal help for any towing problems you experience. They can help you understand your rights and explain your available options.
Armed with this newfound knowledge, you can avoid being a victim of predatory towing after an accident. Stay safe out there!