Dent repair scams have been around for years, but that doesn’t mean people have stopped falling for them.
The Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker is getting reports of persuasive strangers claiming to “fix” dents in your car.
Stay alert to the following tactics and avoid falling prey to this scam.
How the scam works
A person approaches you in the parking lot of a store stating they noticed dents on your car. It just so happens that they work at a body shop and can fix them for you. They promise to charge much less than what a shop would – and they can make the repairs on the spot while you are shopping. The “repair person” may try to appeal to your altruistic side by claiming that you’d be supporting their small business.
If you agree to the repairs, you could end up with a ruined car exterior. One victim told BBB Scam Tracker: “He was ‘fixing’ my car while I was in the store shopping. When I came out, he had drilled a bunch of holes into the body of my car. He told me it was standard procedure to drill holes in order to pull out the dent. Then, he put a black putty thing all over the holes and told me not to take off the putty until 24 hours later. When I tried to take off the putty, it looked worse than before.”
If you question the work or the cost of the repairs, the “repair person” may get aggressive and try to intimidate you.
How to spot a repair scam
• Be wary of unsolicited offers. This kind of scam starts with someone who just happened to drive by and notice the car needed a repair. If you are approached by a stranger in a parking lot offering repair services of any kind, be careful and ask questions. If they have a business card, check out if the company they say they’re representing is in fact legitimate.
• Don’t fall for high-pressure sales tactics. Scammers will often pressure you to accept their offer, demanding full payment upfront with a statement you’ll never get a better price anywhere else. In addition, they only have time to do the repairs at that moment. High-pressure, now-or-never sales tactics are a hallmark of scams.
• Research the repair person and repair shop before you do business. Look up reviews and business ratings of any repair person or company before agreeing to any service. If you are dealing with an individual repair person, ask for references to call and verify the quality of the work. If a person can’t wait for you to do the necessary research, find someone else to do the job.
For more information on scams and how to protect yourself, visit BBB.org/AvoidScams.
If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker.
Steve McFarland is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau.