Top tips before you hire a towing company

BRONX (WABC) -- Getting in an accident can be stressful and confusing, and a time when victims are vulnerable.

Police say some tow companies jump to prey on people and it can be costly.

His garage is painted with the words "24 hour tows." His company invoice boasts it's "authorized tow." Even it's business card says "24 hour towing." Yet the man who says he owns Inner City Automotive in East Bronx insists his company doesn't tow cars.

"We are just a shop," said Inner City's owner who identified himself as Yancy.

That's news to Ingrid Diaz-Corcino, back in December. She was in a minor accident in the Bronx. Within seconds, she says a man showed up in a tow truck, handed her a Inner City Automotive business card, offering to tow her car.

And when the NYPD showed up? Ingrid says he vanished and then re-appeared after the cops left. This tow truck driver, Alexis, Ingrid says pressured her not to allow the police to call another tower.

She says Alexis told her us she let him tow it, she wouldn't pay a dime. Except it turns out the other driver had no insurance. Since Ingrid wasn't covered for collision, there was no insurance money to claim. But when she tried to retrieve her car? Ingrid says, Inner City charged her $5,000 for storage. Suddenly, she was on the hook for the tow charge and 64 days of storage.

3 years ago, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs revoked Inner City's tow license.

"This why we are investigating Inner City Automotive," says Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin. Because they keep showing up at the scene of accidents. and defrauding customers, saying they're licensed and they're not. Inner City Automotive cannot claim to be just a repair shop they are showing up at accident scenes trying to tow peoples cars.

Inner city insists, despite the writing on the wall and their paperwork, it did not tow Ingrid's car. After we showed up, Inner City offered to take 4 thousand bucks off her storage fee. DCA is now mediating her complaint and attempting to get this resolved favorably for her.

The big takeaway, if you're in an accident ONLY the police can call a tow company. But if you're not in an accident and you need a tow, when the tower shows check for a valid consumer affairs license and a medallion. And be on the look out for rogue towers that show up at accident scenes, many are unlicensed.

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