Don’t Let Sketchy Tow Truck Drivers Take You For a Ride

Getting into a car accident – even a minor one – can be a confusing and stressful experience. Not only do your plans for the rest of the day go completely out the window, you face the financial stress of wondering how much repairs will cost and how the incident is going to affect your insurance rates. And sadly, while you are in this vulnerable and stressed state of mind, there are some tow truck drivers who may try to take advantage of you. Some of these scams were recently brought to light in a recent episode of Marketplace.

man calling tow truck

In this article, we will discuss some common tow truck scams and how you can avoid “getting hooked”.

In some parts of Ontario, it is not uncommon for tow truck drivers to arrive on the scene of an accident, swarming around the affected motorists like bees. They often arrive on the scene without being called, and use high-pressure tactics to try to convince car owners to allow them to tow their vehicles.

Why do Scam Tow Truck Drivers Exist?

You may wonder what their incentive is for doing this. Are they simply trying to be proactive and helpful? In many cases, they are not – and drivers need to be aware that these drivers may be trying to scam them in one or more of the following ways:

  • Some tow truck drivers may take longer than necessary routes – even driving as much as an hour out of the way and then invoice vehicle owners for their mileage.
  • Some tow truck drivers have arrangement with specific mechanics or auto body shops. Drivers can be paid anywhere between $300 and $1000 to take a collision vehicle to a certain shop. The problem is that this may not be the best shop for the vehicle owner. They are often low-quality places with a poor reputation that must rely on tow truck drivers to get them business. This can result in huge charges and the vehicle being held up much longer than necessary.
  • Some tow truck drivers will try to convince car owners that they need a tow when their car is actually quite drivable. Even if the driver doesn’t have a direct relationship with a body shop, they are still trying to dupe the car owner into paying for a service that they don’t need.

Protect Your Rights

So how do you protect yourself from these kinds of scams once you find yourself in the stressful situation of an accident? Here are a few strategies:

  • Don’t panic – take a moment to take a few deep breaths and calm yourself down. You’ll be less likely to make a rash decision if you’re not acting on adrenaline or emotion.
  • If a tow truck driver arrives on the scene without being called, do not agree to let them tow you. And don’t listen to their scare tactics if your car appears to have only minor damage.
  • Call the telephone number on your insurance slip. Their representative will let you know what their preferred body shops are. If you do require a tow, make sure that your vehicle is towed to one of those places
  • Instruct or discuss with family members what they should do if they are in an accident. Teen drivers may be too afraid or panicked to call you at the time of the collision and may trust a tow driver who is only appearing to be helpful.