How Insurance Firms Can Identify and Prevent Towing Scams and Vehicle Crime
Effectively detect and prevent towing scams and organized vehicle crime with advanced analytics.
Automobile accidents or vehicle breakdowns happen every day and can, in some cases, be life changing. Aside from dealing with the potential of injury, victims are faced with other issues such as property damage, the loss of their vehicle, missed work, liability, and traffic violations. This highly stressful time can provide the perfect opportunity for unscrupulous tow truck operators and scam artists to take advantage of unwitting victims.
How tow truck operators scam unsuspecting victims
What is predatory towing?
Predatory towing can take many forms, but it’s defined by towing companies that tow a legally or illegally parked vehicle, either without a contract and/or against the law.
What does a typical towing scam look like?
Tow truck operators use police scanners to track vehicle accidents and rush to the scene of a crash to pray on unsuspecting victims. As first responders clear the scene in a bid to get traffic moving again, tow truck operators sweep in, often using high-pressure tactics to encourage victims to sign forms citing terms and fees they have not agreed to nor understood. In some situations, tow truck operators require upfront payment and once they have the vehicle on the truck, they will hold the vehicle hostage until the victim or insurance company pays exorbitant towing and storage fees.
The bigger (organized crime) picture in vehicle crime
When tow truck operators and body shops have negotiated arrangements for vehicles to be towed, stored, and repaired – before insurance adjusters can view and inspect the vehicle for damage – a larger organized crime picture suddenly comes into view. Competition for big insurance dollars has drawn organized criminals into towing operations, and in some cases have left victims and insurance companies looking for answers.
To combat organized criminal activity, insurers must be able to identify the individuals and businesses involved by connecting addresses and phone numbers to link the disparate data points and create a clear picture of relationships.
How insurers can identify and prevent fraudulent activity
Insurance companies receive and process hundreds and thousands of automobile claims a year. They use data and the claim information they receive to evaluate and process claims as quickly and efficiently as possible, getting their insured’s vehicle repaired and back out on the road in a timely manner.
With proactive approaches and a process of detection, monitoring and investigation of insurance fraud insurance, companies can identify and prevent fraudulent activity and protect their insureds from rouge tow truck operators and organized criminal activity. By leveraging the power of advanced analytics to connect previously unknown relationship between tow truck operators and body shops, legal and litigation activity, and corporate ownership data, insurers can detect and prevent fraudulent payments before they go out the door.
The importance of a single customer view in insurance
Insurance companies rely on the data they receive as well as the access they have to other data sources to process claims, identify fraudulent activities and make accurate decisions. However, with millions of data points spread across multiple systems, and trapped in silos across internal and external data sets, insurers need an innovative way to turn volumes of data into accurate, actionable insights. What they need is a single view of their customer, claimant, and third-party risk.
Through the process of Entity Resolution, insurers can gain a better understanding of who they are dealing with while the connections between people, organizations, addresses and phone numbers can be used to identify, prevent and protect against fraud-opportunistic organizations.
The future of detecting and preventing vehicle crime in the insurance industry
Why should insurance companies and the public care about a perceived victimless crime? Automobile accidents and the clean-up of the aftermath have a significant financial impact on the accident victim, costs on insurance rates, and time spent on recovery. Being victimized twice by a tow truck operator or automobile repair shop can be prevented.
Fraud detection solutions and investigation of insurance fraud and vehicle crime can prevent continued victimization and additional financial loss. The ability to connect organized criminal conspiracies to individuals and businesses can provide insurance companies with the intelligence and decision-making power to protect accident victims and prevent future towing scams and claim losses. Law Enforcement and first responders can be trained to spot bad actors and fraudulent activity, but most of all insurance companies can deploy the resources and technology to identify, investigate and prevent fraudulent activity before future towing scams can be successfully accomplished.