Fighting Fraudulent Car Accidents, Part 3: Be Informed
Bobbie Sage writes for About.com:
Insurance fraud began when insurance first began. Incidents have been recorded as far back as ancient Greece. Ship scuttling was an insurance scam in ancient Greece where ships were purposely sunk. Later insurance fraud traveled to England then to America. When automobiles were introduced it opened a whole new arena for fraudulent insurance claims. Today, with modern technology, many fraudulent car accident claims do arise from sophisticated organized crime rings that can be hard to detect. Don’t let this make you a victim of an insurance scam. Whether the insurance scam is from an organized crime ring or an individual, there are fraud protection steps you can take to help you be more aware and avoid being a scammer’s next victim.
The first of those steps is becoming informed. If you become a victim of one of these fraudulent accidents it will cost you. While the insurance company will be making the initial payout in these cases, rest assured that it will come out of your wallet down the road in the form of increased premiums.
Charles Montaldo, a private investigator writing for About.com, describes the most common of these scams:
This particular scam is called the ‘swoop and squat.’
The first car ‘swoops’ in while the second car ‘squats’ in front of you. After the ‘accident,’ everyone in the car you rear-ended (usually crammed full of passengers) will file bogus injury claims with your insurance company. Each will complain of whiplash or other soft-tissue injuries; things difficult for doctors to confirm. They may even go to crooked physical therapists, chiropractors, lawyers, or auto repair technicians to further exaggerate their claims.
Montaldo goes on to cover several of the most commonly seen scams, like “The T-Bone,” “The Shady Helper,” and “The Drivedown.” You can learn more about these scams here.
FraudGuides.com advises the following when involved in an accident:
Keep a disposable camera, paper and pen in your glove department. Pictures can be invaluable when trying to protect yourself after an accident has taken place. Take many pictures of all the cars involved, including the passengers. Record as much information as you can about each participant in the accident, including witnesses. With pictures and extensive documentation, this shouldn’t leave any room for the scammers to lie about damages to their persons and/or vehicle.
This is becoming easier and easier to do in today’s age of the smartphone. You can get names, addresses, and phone numbers, as well as take videos and pictures. Documentation makes a huge difference in how well protected you are from the efforts of those attempting to “game the system.”
Another important thing to keep in mind is that if anything seems slightly odd or staged you should call the police immediately. Watch the behavior of the other vehicle’s occupants. Is there a difference in the way they behave before police arrive as compared to after? How about seat belts, were they wearing them?
Any and all details help in any accident, but they can be especially important in the fraudulent ones.