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AG Nessel Warns Residents About Price-Gouging, Contractor Scams and Water-Damaged Vehicles

LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is warning Michigan residents to beware of scam artists and price-gougers who will try to take advantage of desperate home and vehicle owners in the next several days and weeks.  Of particular concern are reports of price-gouging by towing companies that have towed cars out of flooded roadways and impounded them - as well as fly-by-night contractors offering to help homeowners clean up after the weekend storms.

"I am concerned that bad actors may use the weekend's flooding to overcharge or scam people who need assistance," Nessel said. "Our Consumer Protection team is committed to investigating complaints and I encourage people to contact our office if you believe an entity is engaging in price gouging or other fraudulent behavior. We stand ready to hold accountable anyone who attempts to take advantage of this devastating situation."

Nessel re-issued three consumer alerts related to natural disasters after the Department learned of complaints about possible price-gouging by towing companies recovering vehicles that were abandoned during flooding in Southeast Michigan. There are hundreds of abandoned vehicles through Southeast Michigan following recent rains that caused significant flooding and damage.

The first alert is focused on vehicle towing and explains the process to complain about unreasonable fees.

Drivers have the right to challenge whether your vehicle was properly towed and the reasonableness of towing and storage fees, but you must do so in a timely manner and in an appropriate district court.

The process requires you to file a petition in the district court with jurisdiction over the location from which your car was towed. You must file your petition within 20 days from the date on the notice that your vehicle was towed as abandoned. And you will be responsible for applicable court filing fees. The petition and instructions for how to fill it out are included with the mailed notice, or available on the Secretary of State's webpage (Petition Regarding Impoundment of Motor Vehicle (DC90) form). If you request a hearing, you can also get your vehicle back while you are awaiting the hearing outcome, but you will have to either:  

  1. post a towing and storage bond, (which will include the accrued towing and storage fees) with the court; or 
  2. pay the abandoned vehicle fees and the accrued towing and storage fees to the custodian of your vehicle. 

If the court finds the vehicle was improperly towed, you will be reimbursed for the towing and storage fees, and the abandoned vehicle fee will be returned.

Nessel is also reminding people to research contractors if home repairs are needed before paying for a project and alerting drivers to beware of water-damaged vehicles being sold on the used car market.

To file a complaint with the Attorney General, or get additional information, contact:

Consumer Protection Division

P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Fax: 517-241-3771
Toll free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form

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