What to do about a tow truck scam?

I was involved in an accident today and a tow truck miraculously appeared to help me. I asked the driver of the tow truck about the costs involved and he said I would have to pay nothing – he would recover costs from the opposite party’s insurance. After towing me about 15km to his yard he asked me to sign a document which was a checklist of the possessions in my car. He did not show me the back of the document which showed the costs nor did I sign that back part of the document. He then disappeared, and the people in the yard refused to give my car back to me until I paid an excessive amount of money to them. What can I do?

Asked on November 10, 2011 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First, you call the police--you tell them that the tow truck company has taken your car and is refusing to give it back to unless you pay an amount you never agreed to. Don't mince words--tell the police the tricked you into letting them take possession of your can and won't give it back--basically, that they stole your car.

If the police won't get involved (they should, but may refuse to if they mistakenly conclude this is a "civil" matter--basically, a dispute over terms or payment), contact your insurer (if you have relevant insurance (e.g. towing or collision) and get them involved to help you.

You can also go to court. Go on an "emergent basis" seeking a Temporary Restraining Order requiring that your car be returned, as well as a declaration of the correct amount, if any, that you owe.

A lawyer would be very helpful in dealing with this situation.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.