Being towed is a traumatic event. You may have been going to drop your child at school to then find yourself car-less. Today, we discuss a common illegal tactic we see from towing companies at the time consumers go to pick up their vehicle after a tow.
Imagine you were towed (legally or illegally, that’s a separate topic) and you go pick up your vehicle. The vehicle is in your spouse’s name, not yours. You are listed on the insurance card of the vehicle. The towing agent at the lot tells you that he can’t give you the car because you are not listed in the title of the vehicle. You tell him that the owner is your spouse and point to the common last name. You also show the insurance card. The tow agent is unmoved and forces you to have your spouse come in person, or in the alternative obtain a notarized affidavit authorizing you to pick the vehicle. Your spouse gets out of work, drafts something out, gets it notarized, and emails it to you. You then show it to the tow agent. The towing agent wants the original. Your spouse can’t come there because of work responsibilities so you have to take an Uber to his workplace to obtain the affidavit. The entire turnaround is four hours. The tow company charges an additional $200 for “storage” on top of the tow fee.
The fact pattern described is not uncommon. Tow companies make up silly excuses not to give you your vehicle and then charge you extra fees for having it for longer. In other cases, they make it so difficult that they keep it for days, creating a massive bill that consumers can’t pay. Tow companies then put a lien on the vehicle and sell it.
It is all part of a big scam by some tow operators. The reality is that under Florida Statutes 715.07(2)(a)(7), the tow operator has to return the vehicle to the “person in control or custody” of the vehicle. The law does not require proof of ownership, or that your name is in the registration of the vehicle. Moreover, under Florida Statutes 715.07(2)(a)(9), tow companies have to return the vehicle within one hour after it was requested. And yet, tow companies act as if there are competing claims; as if 10 people are making a claim for that very vehicle. The reality is that there is rarely—if ever—more than one person making a claim in a single-vehicle. Tow companies know this, but make the pickup process difficult to simply overcharge or try to sell your vehicle for cheap to make a quick profit.
Beware of these tow scams and if you have a case, do not hesitate to call a tow attorney at Ayala Law firm at 305-570-2208 or email attorney Eduardo A. Maura at firstname.lastname@example.org.