Illegal towing and predatory towing is conducted by towing companies without the owner's consent. Predatory towers can overcharge, damage vehicles and often have monetary contracts with property owners to illegally tow vehicles from their property.
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Illegal Towing and Predatory Towing Practices
Some illegal practices include patrolling private lots and removing vehicles without the presence of a property owner, refusing to unconditionally release a vehicle to the owner before it has been removed from the private property, and unlawfully taking a vehicle within one hour of parking.
In the past decade, many US states began to regulate illegal and predatory towing. In 2005, a bill was introduced that would allow states such as California to enact legislation regarding towing practices on private property, but towing companies work around the legal system—predatory towers defend themselves by claiming they just have a different interpretation of the rules and hire attorneys to make it almost impossible to represent yourself without a lawyer.
Illegal Towing Laws
For example, a towing company may have a contract with a city police department in which the charge for a tow is $75.00, and the city may have a cap of $200 for private property tows. But your car may be towed from a parking lot for a charge of $400.00. Some unscrupulous towing companies ignore predatory towing laws.
Check your state's towing rules because Illegal towing laws vary. A predatory tower is familiar with the laws but assumes their victims do not know illegal and predatory towing laws. If you know the law and complain, the illegal tower may give you a refund.
Here are a few examples of illegal towing laws:
In 2006, Vehicle Code bill AB 2210 came into effect, which protects motorists from predatory towing practices from private property. California law requires the tow company to immediately and unconditionally release a vehicle if the driver arrives prior to it being towed from the private property or in transit.
Oregon law requires that the tower release a vehicle at no charge only if the driver is present prior to the hookup being complete. The tower must also take at least one photograph of the vehicle and record the time and date of the photograph. The photograph must show the vehicle violation taking place.
Virginia legislation requires warning signs to be posted at all entrances, maximum fees set for towing and storage, and photographs to be taken before towing to show the condition of the vehicle as well as the lawfulness of the towing.
Non Stop et al Illegal Towing Class Action Lawsuit
A class action lawsuit was filed against eight towing companies for allegedly towing legally parked cars, charging exorbitant fees, and engaging in predatory towing practices. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Los Angeles residents whose cars were towed while legally parked in Southern California. The suit alleges Non Stop towing and other firms regularly tow cars without reason and overcharge motorists in order to make larger commissions.
"The first thing you think of when you car has been towed is that it has been stolen," says attorney John Bisnar. "Well, getting towed is similar; it might as well be road robbery. All too often, tow companies are holding your car ransom.
"Unfortunately, many tow companies aren't playing by the rules and countless people have had their vehicles towed illegally. Not only does the tow company usually release your vehicle for cash (and usually charges about $300), it also dings hapless drivers for other charges such as $45 per day for storage, an extra $45 fee after 6pm or on a weekend. Again, these charges are not legal."
And why do some companies only accept cash? By law they are required to take credit cards or checks. "I am guessing that they want to conceal the illegal tow and/or income and/or they don't want you to dispute the credit card charge or stop payment on a check," says Bisnar.
Illegal Towing Racket and Scam
Bisnar knows that tow truck drivers get a bonus for towing cars. "We have a former employee from one of these bandit companies with a background so checkered we can't use him as a witness but he gives us information," he explains. "And we also know of this scam: Someone watches the parking lot and calls the tow company and the person who is watching is being compensated by the company for every car towed from that lot."
Illegal Towing Lawsuit
Bisnar is representing a client who was having lunch in a fast-food outlet—he was only there 20 minutes. "We know it was an illegal tow. In fact, there have been tow companies that the LA county district attorney brought charges against for this particular type of action...another client owns a towing company and his own tow truck was towed by his competition! He is flaming mad."
Due to recent illegal towing media coverage, people contact Bisnar's firm daily and many are joining the class action. However, Bisnar can only accept clients with good documentation. "People must be able to substantiate their claims; they need receipts and wherever possible, witnesses," he says.
"For instance, one person we just signed on got his car towed at a specific time-- he has a receipt for a deposit from his bank that proves he was not in the area where his car was towed, 20 minutes before it was towed--meaning his car wasn't parked for an hour. And he paid the tow company by credit card."
If you want to fight the tow company, you won't have your car and you risk paying hefty storage charges --who can afford that? "Illegal towing has become a social issue-somebody has to do something about this," says Bisnar. "Hey, why not us?"
Illegal and Predatory Towing Legal Help
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Portland, ORIllegal towing is by far one of the most frustrating aspects of car ownership—especially in major urban centers where parking access is always at a premium. Motorists who park illegally must face the consequences. However, those who go out of their way to park legally are often hit with an illegal tow and the accompanying extortion that surely follows. Sadly, illegal car towing is reality [READ MORE]
I am looking for information on Towing from a condo place where I Live. My wife and I have Work cars and when we are out working the condo place always tows our cars from the parking lot when they have snow plowing or any kind of cleanup work done in the condo. they tell us we should have been home to move them,. They never call us to let us know ahead of time. Can they do this? and if not what can we do about it?
Posted by avin
the aparment manager tow my car coz his reason she pound person sleeping inside the car..she tow my car and we don't get any warning or phone calls..?what the best move to do to get my car back without paying the towing..
Posted by Eric
I have a question about NY repo lots that only accept cash is this legal? are they supposed to accept any other kinds of payment, such as credit card, etc?
Posted by Zak Kjolsing
The apartment landlord decides to belittle me through an email. Stating, everyone in the lot will have to move their cars due to snow removal. However to record remained in the law during that 24 hours you need to give a 72 hour notice to contact the police for citation, so I reported it stolen. So technically it was removed as landlord wanted to be a preditory on tenants by selecting only a few which is illegal.
Saying the 75 bucks will be added to my rent after going to court with them about eviction since she hadn't updated the financials even after the court date. According to her attorney she received the checks, according to her night before she didn't and day of said couldn't cash until verdict in a settlement which was to send in accumulative of both checks before the first which I did.
She is targeting tenants deliberately
Posted by lizeth hamlett
my car got repossessed the 24th and the company was closed 3 days and now they are charging me is that legal?
Posted by Raynalyn Longa
My car was towed by ace towing two months ago. I have not been able to retrieve any of my personal belonging, likey vital records. How can I obtain them?
Posted by Sixto morales
I emailed you all the info. Yesterday, please contact me.
Posted by Steve
From the other side of coin. I have been in the towing business which includes better than 20 years in the Trespass Towing or Private Property Towing, most states have laws that Trespass Towers must follow and punishments for those who don't. But it is the individual that has to take them to court, get your car and file suit against them. There are always going to be some tow companies that work outside of the law, but a majority of all towers are like every other business, just doing the job they were hired for. Property owners, apartments business's, and commercial area's need to have parking regulations or their lots would fill up with illegally parked, expired tags, no tags cars using 2 or more spaces or people that are not shopping or living where their car is parked. I'll give you an example, I have an authorization to tow for a drug store chain, the lot holds about 25 cars, I have a sign at all 3 entrances and 4 signs in the property so that no matter where you park a sign is visible, and the signs are 30" wide and 24" tall. From this property we tow anywhere from 20-30 cars a month, and everyone has a story why they should not of been towed. From I bought something before they closed, or there wasn't any parking on the street, Family emergeny or car broke down I like that one because they always drive it off my lot. Anyway I think a lot of people have forgotten what private property means. Did a tow today that the lady broke down at service station at the pumps, told attendant at station she was getting a tow truck and walked off, 5 hrs later they called me to tow. Her complaint now is they told her she was ok, yeah for an hr not 5, they have a business to run. And its their property. And I've read some of these stories and some are bad, but I can also read between the lines and know all the facts are not in a lot of these stories. I'm not saying some of my drivers haven't towed cars they shouldn't have but we take pictures and have GPS in our trucks, so between the pictures and knowledge of when and where my trucks are I can figure out the truth and will release the car and reprimand the employee. If I need to do that often I fire the employee. I know everyone thinks that tow companies pay property owners for tow's and maybe some do but the majority do not, seriously. I also believe if you are going to tow 24 hrs a day then you need to be open 24 hrs a day.
Posted by Alan Palider
I regularly work in Kalamazoo, MI (100 miles from home). When I'm there, a board member puts me up in her condo. There are two areas in the parking lot for visitors. The last two times, both visitor lots were full. Otherwise, there is always a plethora of open spaces. I've parked on the south (not visitor) with no incident. By the way, these non-visitor areas do NOT have any warning signs. Yesterday, I got in at 10:30 PM. As usual, both visitor lots were full; so, again, I parked on the south. At 12:30 AM I noticed my car was gone. I immediately called police. Upon tracing my area, they confirmed my car had been impounded. I had to pay $140 in cash to get my car back. The people who live at the complex do not want to pay the extra monthly charge for a parking permit; so, they park in the visitor spaces. That's why there aren't any visitor spaces and there are at least three dozen open spaces other than what is marked for visitors. This sounds like a scam. The property owner has probably cut a deal with the local towing company to routinely patrol the lot looking for pigeons like me. This sounds really illegal. Do I have any recourse?
Posted by venesssa
i WAS ILLEGALLY/WRONGFULLY TOWED. i WAS NEVER GIVEN A NOTICE FROM THE RESIDENTALMANAGER/OWNERS OF A PARKED VIOLATION, I HAD A PRIVATE PARKING AUTHORIZED PARKING PERMIT(displayed in the back of car windowed that I have had 6 years) AND MY OWN PRIVATE PARKING SPACE....I WAS GIVEN A PARKING CITATION BY THE TOWING COMPANY NOT BY THE CITY OF EL CAJON, CALIF....SO NOW WESTERN PRIVATE TOWING COMPANY HAS CONTROL OF WHAT LAW ABIDING CITIZENS AND US CITIZENS CIVIL RIGHTS AND WHAT WE PAY THE POLICE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY TO DO. WELL I FEEL IF THEY CAN DO THIS WE DOIN/T NEED THE TRAFFIC LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY TO DO THE JOB...WE SHOULD JUST CONTRACT OLLEGAL/ILLEGAL PREDITOR, TPW PATROLING TOWING COMPANIES TO DO THE JOB FOR THEM. I CALLED TO REPORT THE MATTER TO THE CITY OF EL CAJON, CA LAW ENFORCERS, AND THEY SAID ALL THEY DO IS RECORD THE REPORT FROM TOWING, EVEN THOUGH IT IS A GAINST THE LAW FOR THE TOWING BY THE TOWING COMPANY, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY OFFICE KEEP REFERRING ME TO THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY. ANYWAY AS JOE KINDA SAYS ON Investegation discovery channel.....my,my,my....this is a crime and somebody has to be accountable...well in my case nobody cares it wasnt their vehicle they worked there ass off to have as their person private property.....My civil rights has been violated, been abused as a United States citizen, a poor woman(my vehicle was the only thing I owed(paid off) attacked and robbed of my property stolen swindled/scammedddddd,abandoned by my own county law, disabled american, a victim, and very hurt(crying..humm, hmmm) and I don't feel like a american citizen any longer I feel rapped(molested) NOW i DON'T HAVE A CAR TO GO BACK AND FORTH TO THE DOCTORS/SPECIALIST, GROCERY STORE AND OTHER NEEDED NECCESITIES I WEEKLY/MONTHLY NEED TO DO AS A DISABLED PERSON, THAT HAS TWO HEART ATTACKS,TWO STROKES, NO KNEES(PLACEMENTS) IMPLANTS, AND I WAS IN THE PROCESS PARTICIPATION IN THE GLOBAL WARMING EMISSION PROGRAM TO HAVE A CLEAN VEHICLE GETTING MY CAR CLEAN WAS MY WAY OF contributing to the world,,,since I have lost my independents to work and some of my ability to move around. I AM SO DISAPPOINT IN OUR LAW ENFORCEMENT AND IN MY COUNTRY, BECAUSE NOBODY IS TALKING TO ME AND I FEEL ISOLATED AND ABANDONED AND MY CILVIL RIGHTS AND MY LIBERTY HAS BEEN INFRINGED AND VIOLATED .
THE TOWING COMPANY SAID A SPECIFIC OBSERVED TIME WAS THE DAY AND TIME THEY SAID, BUT I'VE BEEN PARKED THEIR FOR 6 YEARS...WHY WASN'T I TOWED 6 YEARS AGO INSTEAD OF SEPT 22, 2015. WHAT THEY JUST OBSERVED SOMETHING THAT WAS IN PLACE 6 YEARS AGO(I would think this obervation time towing stated would be against the law)...SHAME ON YOU WESTERN TOWING A VILLA GRANDE APARTMENT COMPLEX....I'VE BEEN TENANT FOR 7 YEARS, SHAME, SHAME SHAME!
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA CITIZEN AND PROUD OF IT!!!
Posted by Anonymous
This company illegally attempted to tow my car. The employees scam and deliberately attempt to steal money from hard working people. They wouldn't release my car even though i made a purchase at the establishment and i never left the so called property. I placed my purchased items in the car and walked away for 3 minutes. As i was still on the property but away from my car they proceed to attempt to tow me while i wasn't looking claiming that i left the property after patronizing. This was a Burger King Parking lot on a nyc street. They seem to find any way to bend the truth in order to make you seem as the guilty party. Due to the time i had to return to work i paid them to they can drop my car instead of me having to walk to the yard and miss hours of work. Even though it say $62 to drop my car they charged me $125. When i called to see why i was over charged for this illegal tow the owner didn't care. They know how to make excuses and bend ever law they can to steal your money. This company needs to be investigated and or be closed down. This was a liberate attempt to harm people and not good business. The parking lot was 10% full and the manager didn't complain as i spoke with them.
Posted by Jerry
I rent an apartment and I need to have a sticker issued by owner of the apartment on back window of my car. Which I have. My car was towed and the reason is that it was parked backwards. So that way the towing guy could not see the sticker on my back window - but he sure he saw it once he got off his towing truck. I spoke to the owner of apts complex and I was told that the rules are not to park backwards. Ok they posted that request in the hall way... but anyway once I have the sticker which is the proof that a car belongs to the tenant of the apartment could they really legally tow my car? Isn't that request of parking certain way a same nonsense as requesting let's say to keep fresh flower inside your car otherwise it will be towed...?
Posted by ryan
My car was hit with debree from an accident, the tow company pulls up and offers to tow my car, we were down town Kansas city (I had just moved there) I ask the driver will the insurance e company be able to pick it up he tells me yes. On the pick up day they say I have to be there for the pick up, I think no problem, I find out they towed my car 30 min away, I explain to the owner I don't have any other car but the one he towed and since I just moved to kc I can't just ask for a ride. I try to explain my situation but the owner will not talk to me. Since I just started my job I have no time to take off, and he closes at 5 when I get off work so I explain this to the owner and he just tell me that's to bad. He refuses to work with me cause he knows I'm in a bad spot, and won't be able. To get there untill the weekend and he charging me 75 dollars a day. He will not even send e the paper work that he elegidly says I need to sign. Is there anything I can do.
Posted by nicci
I had my utility trailer that was parked on the street in between my house and my neighbors. Per my video camera system, an Officer was caught on Camera marking my tires to my trailer 8/12/15 at 3:03pm then a tow truck towing my trailer at 3:08pm. I was cited for "Parking in front of a driveway" and "Parking more than 72 consecutive hours." this is per Officer. Which again, I have camera's stamped with dates and times showing clearly my trailer being moved every other day. My camera's show my trailer was only parked at that point for only 1 day. I contested this ticket by complying with the Patterson Police Policy and in writing explain why I didn't believe this to be true and submitting my evidence, that they will keep no matter what they decide on. They ask for witness statements and pictures. So I printed out color snap shots of my video and submitted, mind you Patterson Police state they will respond within 48hours of receiving it. Well it has been 8 days and I have called and Patterson Police just tell me that the Seg. might be trying to get the Officers side and he will call me tomorrow, but "Tomorrow never comes" and my bill is getting bigger. I don't have the money to get it out as it's more than $700. Please help. Thanks for listening.
Posted by Gene
Got pulled over had no ins. The tow company was about 5 car lengthbehind were the vihical was they didn't even hook to the truck but hoop in an drove into there lot they charge a tow fee of 310.00 for a tow .How can they charge a tow when they drove it in .what was towed , they never even hook on to it.expert towing in coosbay ore calls that a tow ,wow who gives the people the power to do this. A Oregon state trooper witness the avents an a bystanders.what is the law if a officer saw all this an let them get away with Robert.what's up ore.I thought were exposed to have fair an ajust laws against striking. That teift to me .what do you think
Posted by JIM
PLEASE DONT THROW OUT MY COMMENT DUE TO ALL CAPS. IM JUST 2 DAYS FROM EYE SURGERY AND THIS IS ONLY WAY I CAN SEE WHAT IM TYPING.
MY TRUCK WAS TOWED, AND I WAS NEVER GIVEN ANY DOCUMENTION OF THE TOW COMPANY WHO HAD IT. nO CERTIFIED MAIL, NO REG MAIL.
IT WAS ACTUALLY STOLEN FROM ME BY LAWLERS TOWING IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY LAST mAY 7, 2015. mY FRIEND RAN A CAR FAX ON MY TRUCKS VIN NUMBER TODAY AND MY TRUCK WAS NEVER SOLD AT ANY LIEN SALE. oN JULY 16TH MY TRUCK WAS REGISERED TO A PERSON LIVING 5 MINUTE FROM ME. THE COP WHO HAD IT IMPOUNDED IN MAY REALLY LIKED MY TRUCK. i WAS TICKETED MAY 7TH AND HAD A COURT DATE. TWICE THAT COURT DATE HAS CHANGED. NOW IT IS SEPT 9TH, 2015. SOMETHINGS VERY WRONG HERE.
ANY ATTORNEY OUT THERE WANT TO HELP ME WITH THIS?
Posted by Ke'jon Daniels
This is my second attempt to contact someone and my car has been towed twice since. Is anybody home? I need help by a lawyer experienced predatory towing please.
Posted by Tyler benefiel
I was forced to pay well above legal limits for tow from turnpike. Complaining to turnpike didnt offer any help, they referred me back to magills. Was ordered to go back down for new receipt. While trying to leave i was attacked by owners. I had to break free and run. I was chased through town and assaulted. I have all evidence and towing laws and contracts. Turnpike refuses to acknowledge that i was overcharged, they basically let it happened and offered no real help getting it straightened out. Its like the turnpike is allowing their vendors to charge above contract. Predatory towing laws award treble damages on top of attorney fees. Even if my loss doesnt seem enough, they offer attorneys this incentive to make up for that. I need a lawyer to civilly sue this company for deceptive business practices and for the damages assaulting me, med bills ect. I hope i can convince you to help me threw this and expose this tow comp for their indiscretions
Posted by Anonymous
Was towed nonconsensual from pa turnpike, my wife had flat tire it was gone within 24 hrs of breaking down. I find it at magills auto. Bill was 325.00 i have receipt. The turnpike has their tow prices on their website and in their contract with magill. To tow passenger vehicle should have been 72.00 for tow, 3.50 per mile. Doesnt speculate about storage. My bill was 125.00 for tow plus extra 30 to hookup, 3.50 a mile at ten miles, n then they charged 45 dollars a day for two days when they didnt have it for even 24 hrs, most of which i had no clue it was even towed. Then to top it off the total was still 45.00 above all items listed. When i called turnpike they called magills n magills then called me n told me to come all the way back down for different reciept, when i did they handed me receipt, i asked if they could explain, they said heres ur reciept, theres the door. While walking out i took a pic of there wall of prices because there were no towing prices listed anywhere. A mark magill charged at me for taking the pic i tried to get out door, he grabbed me from behind, at exit door. I spun n broke free n ran. Him and several men from outside chased me down tackeled me drug me to side of road n assualted me kicking my groin n choking me unconscience. Mark then took my phone, went threw it, ripped the case off n smashed it on ground, finally when police arrived they cuffed me n put me in cop car, spent 15 min talking to them, then came to me, wouldnt let me tell him what happened n cited me for harassment n refused to arrest anyone.
Posted by Anonymous
Vehicle towed from private parking lot w/o authorization. "spotters" were used (black vehicle with cameras attached to hood - tented windows. Vehicle towed in excess of 50 miles (law allows tow within 10 miles). Vehicle moved in less than 72 hours without notice. Tow lot operated a Monday thru Friday 9-5 schedule (law mandates vehicle be available 24/7 - no matter reason for tow repo included). Same information reported to police within 1 hour of tow MUST be sent to owner via Certified mail within 3 business days. Unlawful tow no a misdemeanor punishable by $500 fine; 2 months imprisonment or both. Tow fees must be refunded + interest which equals 3 X actual cost to owner. Predatory Tow Law!!!
Posted by California
I was towed from what looked like a parking lot that was actually private property. The property owner has been asked many times to post signs but instead works with the towing company and calls the towing company when her property gets full of cars. She is getting part of the towing fee of $100 for each tow, according to witnesses. I was charged $2,900 plus storage fee of $2,32, because I called the police who said that it was a civil matter and that I should file small claims action against them.
Posted by Alabama
I was towed from what looked like a parking lot that was actually private property. The home owner has been asked many times to post signs but instead works with the towing company and calls the towing company when her property gets full of cars. She is getting part of the towing fee...according to witnesses. Was charged double plus storage fee because I called police.
Posted by California
On Jan 25, 08 @ 6:00pm (yesterday) I parked my car in the visitors parking area at my 70+ unit appartment complex. It was towed away between the hours of 6:00pm-6:45pm. The complex has one sign posted at one of the three entrances to the complex that reads, [homeowners or residents are not to park in onsite parking areas from six pm the evening prior through 9:00pm the day of a holiday. vehicles in violation of weekend and holiday regulations will receive a ticket]. This is my 2nd time being towed from my own home within six months and I never received a ticket. Please help.