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Senate Approves Fuschillo Legislation Protecting New Yorkers From Predatory Towing Practices

 

    The New York State Senate today approved legislation sponsored by State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. that would protect New York drivers from predatory towing at private parking lots.

    Senator Fuschillo (R-Merrick), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection, said, "There are numerous incidents of New York drivers returning to parking lots only to find that their vehicles are gone.  They had no way of knowing that they weren’t supposed to park in certain lots because there were no visible signs telling them that they could not.   When they go in search of their cars, they are often charged exorbitant fees that must be paid in cash. These predatory practices must be stopped in New York State."

    Specifically, the measure (S. 2360-C) would require private lots to conspicuously post signs stating that unauthorized vehicles will be towed at the owners’ expense.  In the event a car is towed, the lot owner must provide the motorist with the name and address of the company that towed the vehicle.  The bill would also require commercial tow companies that tow from private lots to accept at least two credit or debit cards, one of which must be a bank credit or debit card, for the convenience of consumers. In addition, the legislation would prohibit private lot owners from accepting "kick-backs" or sharing in any proceeds earned by towing companies that tow from their lots.

    Predatory towing is a problem for many New York State motorists.   Questionable towing practices include towing companies luring drivers to forbidden parking areas by not posting adequate signs and/or using spotters equipped with binoculars and walkie-talkies to summon tow trucks at a moment’s notice.  A number of tow companies also accept only cash and some are paying kickbacks to parking lot owners who give them exclusive rights to tow cars from their lots.

    Senator Fuschillo’s legislation would also allow local governments to enactment their own regulations to combat predatory towing in addition to this proposed state law. The State Attorney General would also be empowered to stop businesses from performing such practices and seek civil damages under the bill.

    The legislation now goes to the Assembly.


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