The car in front of you unexpectedly hits the brakes. You try to stop your car to avoid the collision, but it is too late. Your cars collide, and an irate driver leaves the vehicle. Words are exchanged, and you decide to swap insurance information to speed things up and be on your way. Unfortunately, you just got hooked into one of the most common insurance scams in Los Angeles. Car collision scams are on the rise, and you might be the next victim.
Car collision scams are nothing new, and there are several types of scams to be wary of. Staged rear-end accidents are the most common. A car will overtake a vehicle and then hit the brakes to force a collision. The scam usually involves a singular vehicle, but sometimes another vehicle will trail the target to prevent him/her from disengaging.
After the accident, the scammer will attempt to heighten the tension, often acting belligerent or threatening. Once you exchange information, the scammer might intentionally add damage to his/her car or fake serious injury.
Scammers often target distracted drivers, women, and seniors. Drivers on their phones will usually accept fault, not knowing that the vehicle ahead of them purposefully stopped to cause a collision. Women drivers can be more compliant, especially when facing hostility. They want the ordeal to end and be on their way.
Seniors are often targeted because of their dulled reflexes or the perception of it. While not every senior will have slow reflexes, law enforcement is more likely to blame them in most cases. Rear-end car collision scams are particularly effective, as cops usually determine that the trailing vehicle is usually at fault.
Car scams don’t just end after the collision and exchange of information. Most car scam rings will have several operators intent on cashing in on your ordeal. Most rings have ties to tow trucks that are in on the scam. These trucks will swoop when the accident occurs, seemingly nearby due to mere happenstance.
Agreeing to be towed will be a big mistake as these companies will often pile on charges on your vehicle or take it to a shady repair shop. Other operators appear as helpful drivers who stop to check on your well-being. These “helpful” drivers will often urge the victim to speed things up or suggest a nearby repair shop or car accident attorney.
Expect your insurance premiums to shoot up after an accident, especially after scammers exaggerate the damage to their cars and the injuries they sustain. Premiums go up by about 50 percent after an accident, costing you an extra $300-$400 a year. Of course, the effects of staged car accidents are not limited to financial aspects.
Confrontation after an accident can be traumatic, especially if the scammers act hostile or threateningly. It can leave you shaken or feeling unsafe on the road, and a few individuals refrain from driving altogether. Seniors involved in accidents also face bigger risks of injury. Even mild collisions can cause whiplash injuries once you reach a certain age. Seniors also have weaker musculature and bones, increasing their chances of injury.
Putting a Stop to Scammers
Anyone can be a victim of car collision scams. However, you can avoid most of the consequences with a bit of preparation and defensive driving. Be aware of your immediate surroundings when you are behind the wheel. Be wary of vehicles that overtake you for no apparent reasons, especially if another vehicle tries to box you in.
Recording the incident will also give law enforcement a clearer picture and hopefully absolve you of any guilt. Opt for front and rear dashcams to be safe, and make sure they’re recording the moment you start your car. You can get a decent dashcam for around $100, which is less expensive than the higher premiums you’ll get if you get pinned for an accident.
If you think you’re involved with a potential car scam, do not leave your vehicle after the collision. Call emergency services or a lawyer and detail your account of what happened.
Car collision scams are dangerous and can have lasting consequences. You should note the signs of a scam and try to avoid the scenario or brace yourself for the coming confrontation once you find yourself boxed in. Remember to use a dashcam to prove your innocence, expose the scammers, and have a lawyer on speed dial to ensure the scammers pay their dues. This way, you can get yourself out of a sticky situation when the time comes.