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USDOT calls for ban on predatory towing junk fees to help protect truckers

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) called for stronger protections for truckers against predatory towing junk fees that can cause costs to skyrocket by thousands of dollars.

In a comment recently on filed on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) proposed rule banning junk fees, USDOT specifically detailed the ways that predatory towing is hurting the trucking community and asked for action.

USDOT specifically pointed to deceptive or unfair fee practices used by predatory towers, including hiding fees until the tow is completed, charging for unnecessary or worthless services, and imposing an excessive number of fees for excessive amounts.

“Towing can occur at the request of the trucker after a breakdown, or at the request of law enforcement or a property owner if the vehicle has been parked illegally. In either case, towing causes substantial distress for truckers who are unable to earn a livelihood until they can regain access to their vehicle. Once their vehicle has been towed, truckers are in a very vulnerable position and highly susceptible to predation,” USDOT said in a news release.

USDOT asked the FTC to enact additional restrictions against the types of unnecessary and excessive mandatory junk fees plaguing truckers.

There have been numerous headlines in the past year featuring truckers forced to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to retrieve a booted or towed truck. If passed, FTC’s junk fees rule could offer truckers protection from these predatory towing operations on a federal level.

“When a truck driver’s vehicle is towed, they can’t earn a living until they get it back — leaving them vulnerable to predatory junk fees from towing companies,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “We support FTC’s efforts to stand up for truckers by acting to ban junk fees and prevent predatory towing fees that can cause significant financial harm.”  

“Predatory towing negatively impacts consumers, including commercial motor vehicle drivers and trucking companies. It is detrimental to the overall health of the trucking industry, and it’s time to end excessive rates, surcharges and other unfair fees associated with predatory towing,” noted FMCSA Acting Deputy Administrator Sue Lawless.  

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