When it comes to auto repairs, there seems to be no shortage of scams ranging from windshield repairs, airbag fraud, not to mention chop shops; but what can you do about it? Scammers are not only well versed on scamming you, but also insurance companies. Find out some common auto repair scams and ways to avoid being swindled.
Below Are Some Typical Scams, but Not Limited to:
Padding Repair Costs- Dishonest body shops may inflate the estimated cost of repairs and then use junk or used parts to repair the car. Basically, you and/or the insurance company are being charged for new parts but only getting subpar parts to repair your auto.
Towing Scams- Assume that you are broken down on the side of the highway. You call a tow company who claims they will be there to assist in about 30 minutes. Unexpectedly, a tow truck shows up and offers to tow your car, but it isn’t the company you called. Be cautious if this happens to you. Many times, those “bandit” tow trucks are out to scam you. They offer to take your car to a repair shop; however, they typically will charge an alarmingly high rate and usually are working together with a dishonest repair shop to scam you. Once your car is there, they will not release your car without an insurance payment
Windshield Fraud- If someone tells you that your windshield needs replacing, but you don’t see any damages, beware! According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB), the number of debatable auto glass claims increased over 52 percent from 2008 to 2009. The NCIB also reported that there was a “527 percent climb in auto glass fraud between the first half of 2009 to 2010.” While these statistics are alarming, there are ways you can protect yourself.
If an unsolicited person approaches you and states your windshield needs replacing and you won’t have to pay for it, yet you don’t see any damages, walk away. This is a ploy by dishonest people to scam you and the insurance company. If you do have windshield damages, only use reputable, researched glass replacement companies.
Airbag Fraud- There are many corrupt repair shops who use damaged or stolen airbags yet charge you and/or the insurer full price for a brand new one in an attempt to scam. Increasing the insurance claim amount affects you and the insurance company in the long run.
Chop Shops- Chop shops are criminal repair shops fronting as reputable, but are anything but. Typically, they are a crime ring that uses garages to hide stolen cars to disassemble them and sell off the parts for profit. Disassembling parts off a car is done quickly by the criminals before the police can be alerted. Usually this is an entire crime ring working together to make an illegal profit. If you go to a repair shop that is out of the way and barricaded it could be a chop shop.
Tips to Protect Yourself from Auto Repair Scams
- When getting an estimate on your auto repairs, choose a shop that is clean and reputable. Ask for recommendations from others including your insurance company.
- Use a shop that employs ASE-certified (Automotive Service Excellence) technicians.
- Request a warranty (written) regarding paint work and auto parts used for repairs.
- Once your shop is chosen, ask for a damage report versus a written estimate of repairs. This is a more detailed account of your auto repairs.
Being aware of some common scams can help minimize the risk of your being targeted. If you still have questions or concerns about auto repair scams, call our offices at Cameron Insurance Group today and we will assist you. We are here for all your N.Y. auto insurance needs.