Four A’s of Auto Scams
How many times has a random stranger offered to fix the dents on your car? Sometimes they do it in the middle of a parking lot, as you are getting into your car. The more brazen ones will even honk their horn to get your attention after you have already started driving. Whether they are legitimate or not, your initial reaction should be one of vigilance. To be vigilant means to be on guard. Not only should you be cautious with all strangers in today’s world, but when it comes to your automobile, you should be aware of the Four Auto Scams.
Auto Scam 1
Airbags are designed to do one thing and one thing only, that is save lives. Every year, roughly 1.5 million of them do just that, inflating during crashes. Surely, the survivors were left wondering what would have happened had they not had those airbags. The truth is that drivers should have these thoughts long before getting into an accident. Your airbag may not deploy because it might not be there at all. In fact, something else entirely might be in there. Crooked repair shops have been known to replace airbags with faulty ones, or even to fill the space with junk, like beer cans or packing peanuts. That may sound like one slick trick, but it certainly is not victimless.
If you are buying a used car, get a vehicle report. A vehicle report will let you know if the car has been damaged or salvaged. Check the airbag light when you turn the car on. If it fails to come on or flickers in any way, have it checked immediately.
Auto Scam 2
Anyone who has been in a car accident can attest to the drama that ensues. That being said, it should come as no surprise that a certain percentage of accidents are staged. The perpetrators are counting on the usual confusion, not to mention the time it can take to get the facts straight in so many collisions. The sooner you can get your wits about you and begin to make record of all pertinent details, the better. Take pictures and notes, but most importantly, be able to recognize the signs of a staging. These are just a few to help you out:
- Wave down: Once a driver has given the wave that it is safe to pull out of a parking lot or side street, two vehicles will set up a crash.
- Drive down: In a similar ploy, the driver may have been lured by someone else giving a wave, this time luring them to turn early into a left turn. The perpetrator then times the collision accordingly.
- Swoop and squat: Few collisions make you feel more helpless than the rear-end collision. Just beware of two vehicles trapping you in one.
Again, you may not be able to see these coming. You might not even be able to catch them as they occur. Being vigilant also means remaining alert and aware, assessing the situation accurately so that the truth may prevail at a later date.
Auto Scam 3
A valid agent is a representative of some other entity. So when you are approached by someone claiming to be an insurance agent, the insurance carrier is that other entity. The premiums that he or she may end up collecting from you may end up in their pocket, rather than going towards your coverage. Long before you end up in an accident with no insurance coverage, paying out of your own pocket, confirm the identity of the insurance agent.
Also, beware of something called “sliding.” An unscrupulous agent makes commission and makes it from the same source as other agents: coverage. The more coverage you are signed up for, the more the agent makes. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that extra coverage has been known to show up in policies. The bottom line: know what you are paying for.
Auto Scam 4
So, the people offering to fix your dents may not be the only scam artists to approach you. Be able to identify them before they approach and your wallet will be better off for it. There are also the windshield replacement people. It always starts with “All I need is your…” The wording may vary and they may not lead with that exact phrase, but they still need something from you in order to pull off whatever they are attempting. In this case, it is your insurance information. You will be promised a new windshield for free if you provide them with your insurance information. If you are not already suspicious when offered something for free, now is a good time to start, long before Mr. Windshield starts submitting false claims to your insurance company.
Have you ever heard of a “bandit” tow truck? Now that is one term that actually sounds as suspicious as it should. Surely, no one is going to hand their automobile over to a bandit. Well, a tow truck showing up on cue, right after an accident or breakdown, may not be so quickly questioned. After all, a tow truck is a tow truck, right? What matters though is that you called for it. It may come because you have AAA. Your auto insurance policy might offer the service. You may even know of an independent towing company. Still, you initiated it. You sign a contract that clearly states where your car is being towed to. You get an invoice with all the charges and fees explicitly printed on it.
If you suspect that you have been the victim of any of these forms of fraud, you must alert the authorities and should speak with a consumer law attorney to discuss your options. Contact this office for a free consultation.
Please be advised that this blog is for informational purposes only, is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.
The Law Office of H. Benjamin Sharlin LLC
is owned and operated by H. Benjamin Sharlin and serves all of Mercer County, New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Mr. Sharlin is a bilingual Spanish-speaking attorney who vigorously represents the interests of all his clients.
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