New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Charges Two Towing Companies with Violating the Predatory Towing Prevention Act; Continues Investigations into Towers Accused of Predatory Actions
NEWARK – Continuing its proactive enforcement efforts against towing companies that violate New Jersey’s Predatory Towing Prevention Act, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs today announced charges against two towing companies in Jersey City and Irvington.
Truchan Bros. Auto & Towing, Inc., of Jersey City, is accused of conducting towing operations at 34 parking lots in Jersey City and elsewhere in Hudson County, despite not having contracts with the owners of those lots. The company is also accused of towing from a lot that lacked adequate signage, required by law to be no smaller than 36 inches wide by 36 inches high and to inform car owners about, among other things, the hours during which parking is allowed at the lot in question, towing and storage fees, and information on where towed cars will be located.
A.N.S. Towing & Recovery, of Irvington, is accused of conducting towing operations at two parking lots in Newark, despite a lack of adequate signage at both locations, and despite not having contracts with the owners of those lots.
“It's high time tow truck operators respected the rights of New Jersey's motorists," said Thomas R. Calcagni, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. "Consumers should not have to guess whether parking in a particular area will place their vehicle in jeopardy. New Jersey's Predatory Towing Prevention Act requires towing companies to treat consumers fairly, by posting signs that are highly visible and provide clear information about where and when parking is not allowed, the penalties for unauthorized parking, and the phone number and address of the location to which cars will be towed."
As a result of the Notices of Violations filed by the Division, Truchan Bros. and A.N.S. Towing face civil penalties of $86,000 and $7,000, respectively. Both companies have the option of contesting the administrative charges and requesting a formal hearing.
In addition to the Notices of Violation, the Division has sent warning letters to nine towing companies, after meeting with representatives of the companies and receiving assurances that they would immediately correct any improper practices and abide by the Predatory Towing Prevention Act and Regulations in the future.
The Division sent warning letters to A.T.Towing & Auto Transport, of Perth Amboy; All Tow Transport, of Harrison; Bergen County Towing, of Tenafly; Citywide Towing, of Hawthorne; Jaylynn Towing & Recovery, of Perth Amboy; Merger Towing d/b/a ABC Towing, of Fort Lee; R & D Autobody and Towing, of Dunellen; RK Towing, of East Brunswick; and Rich’s Towing Services, Inc., of North Brunswick.
Truchan Bros. and A.N.S. are the fifth and sixth towing companies against which the Division has taken action since March, when the Division filed the State’s first-ever lawsuit under the Predatory Towing Prevention Act. In March, the Division filed suit against PMM Towing, of Maplewood, for alleged predatory towing practices, and entered into settlements with EZ Towing and Recovery, Inc., and Danny’s Towing, both of Jersey City. In June the Division filed suit against Gilliam Towing, of Irvington, for similar alleged practices.
Consumers should know the law. New Jersey's Predatory Towing Prevention Act prohibits towing companies from the following:
Failing to release a vehicle that has been hooked or lifted, but has not actually been removed from private property, upon request of the vehicle's owner;
Trolling (cruising) for vehicles parked without authorization;
Paying for information about vehicles parked without authorization;
Refusing to accept an insurance company check or a debit card, charge card, credit card, or check for towing or storage services, if the towing company ordinarily accepts such payment at its place of business;
Charging for a towing or storage service not on the Division's schedule of services; and
Charging an unreasonable or excessive fee.
A consumer education brief that highlights these and other key features of the Predatory Towing Prevention Act has been produced by the Division of Consumer Affairs and can be read online or downloaded at www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/brief/towing.pdf .
Consumers who believe their vehicles have been illegally towed from private parking lots should file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Affairs. To file a complaint, go to http://www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov, or call 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.
Follow the Division of Consumer Affairs on Facebook and check our online calendar of upcoming Consumer Outreach events.