TUCSON – Car owners struggled to find any way to appeal debts from a local towing company.
Jennifer does not want her last name mentioned. She believes her car was improperly towed from an apartment complex with inadequate signage. She got her car back from A and B Towing, after refusing to pay at the tow yard. She got a letter from a collections agency a few days later, and she appealed in writing. She said she was told the debt was still being reported to the credit bureaus.
“There’s nothing I can do,” Jennifer said, “not with my credit bureau, not with the collections agency, clearly not working out with the towing company, and obviously not with the police department. So they can’t do anything either. They say it’s a civil matter.”
Representatives from the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, said towing debts should not hurt credit scores.
Curtis Goldin reserves two spaces at his apartment complex, The Ranch at Star Pass. He said A and B Towing removed his friend’s car from his reserved space. A few weeks later, they towed his car from his reserved space. He said apartment management did a great job resolving the issue with his car, so he did not have to fight the bill. But he said the towing company did $1,300 in damage to his vehicle.
“A and B Towing has shown over the last couple weeks,” Goldin said, “just dealing with me, like a very aggressive, predatory, kind of slimy attitude.”
His friend refused to pay at the tow yard and was sent a bill from a collections agency.
“To say there are holes in the due process, it’s probably foundationally incorrect,” Goldin said, “because there is no due process in this regard.”
Attorney Stephen Portell sent an email on behalf of A and B Towing that stated, in part, “Our company follows the policies and instructions of property owners, as well as local and state laws. We help patrol private property and parking areas to keep unauthorized vehicles from taking away space from our client’s businesses and residences. Our company posts clear warnings and information in the areas we must patrol and keep clear.”
The Ranch at Star Pass selected a new towing company for the community because the previous company made “erroneous tows without our approval,” according to a representative from Peak Living, the property’s management company. The representative stated in an email, “Our top priority is the happiness and safety of our residents and want to make sure the towing service is a benefit to the residents and not a cause of concern.”
Michael does not want his last name mentioned. He said he used to work for A and B Towing driving a “spotter car.”
“It’s kind of like spying on the people or ambushing them,” Michael said.
He said he received more money if he got 30 cars towed per week.
“It was 100 percent disturbing,” Michael said, “because here they are going to school.”
Portell declined to answer follow-up questions about A and B Towing’s statement. Here is the complete statement:
“A&B Towing is a small locally-owned business that serves many clients throughout the Pima County area. Our company follows the policies and instructions of property owners, as well as local and state laws. We help patrol private property and parking areas to keep unauthorized vehicles from taking away space from our client’s businesses and residences. Our company posts clear warnings and information in the areas we must patrol and keep clear. Towing is a difficult business, because nobody is happy to have their vehicles moved and stored. However, without cost-effective towing/patrolling services, most business and private residential areas would have no other way to protect themselves and keep their properties clear and accessible.
A&B recently discovered that it accidentally towed a wrong vehicle. The mistake arose from a permit that was obscured by a very dark window tint. When the error was discovered, A&B corrected it and reversed the charges.
As a minority-owned business that is sensitive to the needs of our community, A&B Towing always looks for a way to help people who need a break on towing fees. We know that some people cannot always afford traffic tickets, parking violations or the consequences of having their vehicle towed from private property. However, we have to balance our compassion with our duty to protect our clients’ property. It’s not always easy to make everyone happy.”
An Equifax representative wrote:
“Outstanding debts related to towing costs are not included on a consumer’s Equifax credit report. We encourage consumers to regularly check their credit reports to ensure the information is accurate and complete. Consumers may get a free copy of their credit reports from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus every 12 months by visiting annualcreditreport.com.”
An Experian representative wrote:
“Towing debts should not be on a consumer’s credit report. If a consumer believes an item on his credit report reflects a towing debt, he may dispute that with Experian.”
A TransUnion representative wrote:
“TransUnion does not knowingly accept into our credit reporting database any fees, fines or debts that did not arise from a contract or agreement to pay, such as towing fees or collections for towing fees. We don’t see any A&B Towing debts reported by International Collection Systems in our system.
TransUnion requires data furnishers to complete a rigorous credentialing process to ensure data quality and security, as well as compliance with all applicable credit reporting laws and regulations.”