Posted & filed under Carrier Connection.

Imagine that you’re hauling a load down the busy streets of Chicago. As an overpass approaches, you notice that the gap between your trailer and the pass looks tight, but an official-looking individual in a vest motions for you to continue. You heed their command and scrape your trailer across the underside of the overpass. Like a miracle, a tow company appears from out of nowhere. They tow your vehicle and later send you the bill of $17,000.

This short story is a real-life example of a towing scam.

The term predatory towing often prompts carriers to envision something like the story above. Though this assumption would be technically correct, predatory towing is often far less flashy and sensational.

Unfortunately, the subtlety of predatory towing is what makes it so dangerous.


What is Predatory Truck Towing?

Put simply, predatory truck towing is when a truck is towed under questionable legal or financial circumstances.

Here are a few examples:

  • If a tow truck lacks the proper authority or consent to make the tow
  • If a tow bill claims unnecessary or exorbitant charges
  • If a tow truck acts beyond the endowments of its contract
  • If a tow truck exploits an individual in a dire situation with inflated pricing

To be clear, predatory truck towing is not merely the act of trucks being towed. Tow trucks work at the direction of a property owner enforcing posted signage regarding no tow zones, which is perfectly legal. It is when improper authority or behavior is exhibited that predatory truck towing becomes a consideration.


How to Prevent Predatory Trucking Towing

There are several ways to identify predatory truck towing.


1. Know What a Fair Tow Charge Is

Predatory truck towing often comes in the form of a tow bill possessing inflated or duplicated charges. To combat this scam, it is imperative to understand what a typical tow bill looks like.

Below is a table of median rates related to typical tow jobs compiled by the American Transportation Research Institute.


Image courtesy of the American Transportation Research Institute.

If your bill looks similar to the excessive rate column, you may be getting scammed.


2. Credible Tow Companies Aren’t Restricted to One Location

A common predatory trucking towing tactic is when a tow truck takes its tow to an exclusive location where charges will be higher.

If a tow company is insistent on a tow to one location, this is a red flag. Credible tow companies will take your truck to a shop of your choosing.


3. Watch for Signage

Ultimately, tow truck drivers are only fulfilling their role in enforcing parking regulations. If you’d like to avoid run-ins with tow trucks as much as possible, it’s best to be aware of your surroundings and look for signage indicating a tow zone when parking.

Predatory truck towing can be a costly and frustrating addition to an already difficult situation. Fortunately, there are tell-tale signs of predatory truck towing that can help carriers identify a potential scam.

By knowing the median towing rates, sticking to credible towing companies, and proactively identifying signage for tow zones, carriers can stay off the hook.


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