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Post date: May 12 2015

A.G. Schneiderman Issues Cease And Desist Letter To Watertown Towing Company Over Allegedly Illegal Towing

Upstate Towing and Recovery Accused Of Bilking Consumers, Must Immediately Halt Unauthorized Activities

WATERTOWN – Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Watertown Regional Office today issued a cease and desist letter to a local towing company regarding alleged deceptive and illegal towing practices. The company, Upstate Towing and Recovery, has been accused of participating in a rash of unauthorized tows from two private downtown parking lots.

Based upon complaints to Attorney General Schneiderman’s Watertown Regional Office, consumers have reported what is believed to be unauthorized towing from lots located at 146 Arsenal Street and 105-113 Court Street in Watertown. The towing has resulted in out of pocket costs, inconvenience, and alleged property damage.  Signage in these lots was posted after a 2009 action by the Attorney General’s Office, which lists just two towing companies purportedly authorized to tow from the properties, neither of which is Upstate Towing and Recovery. The private lot owner, Washington Street Properties, denies directing tows from the locations.

“It is deceptive and illegal for a company to tow vehicles they aren’t authorized to tow,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “When a company bends the rules and unfairly targets consumers, my office will hold them accountable.”

General Business Law Section 399-v prohibits towing vehicles from or disabling vehicles in a private parking facility unless the owner or operator prominently displays a conspicuous notice stating the name, address and telephone number of the operator of the parking facility, along with the name, address and phone number of the authorized towing company for the lot. The notice is also required to state that unauthorized vehicles will be towed at the vehicle owner’s expense. Violations of the law can result in a penalty of $50 to $1,000 for each violation, not including costs or restitution.  Private claimants can also seek restitution and attorney fees for violations.  In the instant case, Upstate Towing and Recovery, owned by Ricky Frazier, was not identified on the signs, nor is it alleged to have been given authorization for the towing.

Attorney General Schneiderman’s Office urges lot owners to make sure their facilities display clear and proper signage in order to protect unknowing consumers from having their vehicles towed, which can cost hundreds of dollars in fees, and to take prompt action to protect consumers parking in their lots.

Consumers who believe they may be a victim of fraud are urged to contact the Attorney General’s Watertown Regional Office at 315-523-6080.

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