Predatory towing: What to know and how to protect yourself after - KCTV5

Predatory towing: What to know and how to protect yourself after a wreck

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In Kansas City, it is illegal for a tow truck to show up at an accident scene unless police or the driver calls them first.  Madison Neal says it happened to her after a car crash on Interstate 35. (Madison Neal) In Kansas City, it is illegal for a tow truck to show up at an accident scene unless police or the driver calls them first. Madison Neal says it happened to her after a car crash on Interstate 35. (Madison Neal)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

It’s happening every day. 

Wreck chasers, or predatory tow truck companies, illegally race to the scene of an accident and get you to agree to a tow that may cost you nearly $1,000 without you knowing up front. 

In Kansas City, it is illegal for a tow truck to show up at an accident scene unless police or the driver calls them first.

Madison Neal says it happened to her after a car crash on Interstate 35. 

“I didn't know who to call. The first person I called was my dad, because I didn't know what to do,” Neal said.

Before she had a chance to call police, within five minutes of her wreck, Neal says a man with 24/7 Towing got to the scene and told her she didn’t need to call police but needed to move her car right away.

“I was very pressured, because he pulled up, and then the actual tow truck came up and he was like, ‘OK, get in his truck. We're going to put your car on there,'" Neal said.

24/7 Towing drove her home, towed her car and later agreed to meet at the lot to pick up the car the next day at 8 a.m. Neal says 24/7 Towing was a no show -- not for another three hours.

Then, she says 24/7 Towing asked her to pay $980 in cash for the tow.

“This is ridiculous. You're a crook. He said, ‘Oh, well sir, his is what we charge in Kansas City,'" Neal’s father, Mark Neal, responded.

Actually, it’s not.

Nathan Pare is the director of towing services for Kansas City, which has a system set up for towing. When police show up at a scene, they call, and the city dispatches a tow truck from a list of pre-checked, vetted and licensed companies. 

“It's a set rate. It's not a cash rate. It's $265 not $1,000 ... not $980 cash. It's absolutely criminal when you talk about that stuff,” Pare said.

But, Pare said this kind of stuff happens every day. He says there are about four companies who regularly troll for unsolicited business.

“24/7 is one of the known wreck chasers in Kansas City, MO,” he said.

That’s why Madison Neal and her father wanted to share their story. Those drivers are sometimes cited but not all of the time. Those citations don’t deter them from showing up again and again.

The Neals want to warn others to know their rights and know those guys are out there.

“He's taking advantage of people, and it's terrible,” Mark Neal said. 

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