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“He was ‘fixing’ my car while I was in the store,” says dent scam victim

BBB issues warning about 'persuasive' strangers
Auto accident leaving a huge dent in the left front quarter panel.

Dents are a fact of life for vehicle owners, but there’s a scam that is also putting a dent into the wallets of its victims.

The Better Business Bureau says it has received reports about persuasive strangers claiming to “fix” dents in your vehicle.

“When getting in or out of your vehicle, stay alert to the following tactics and avoid falling prey to this scam,” says a news release.

How the Scam Works

Someone 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 a significantly reduced fee, and can even make the repairs on the spot while you are shopping. They might go as far as to say that you are supporting their small business, and that they have to seek out repair jobs in this way so they can stay open. However, if you agree to the repairs, you will more than likely end up with a ruined car exterior. 

“He was ‘fixing’ my car while I was in the store shopping,” wrote one scam victim. “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."

According to the descriptions submitted to BBB ScamTracker, when people questioned the work or the cost of the repairs, the individual appeared to become aggressive and tried to intimidate them. 

BBB recommends the following tips to avoid repair scams:

  • 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, ask questions, and think twice before agreeing to a repair job with no quality guarantees.
  • Don’t fall for high pressure sales tactics. Scammers will often pressure their target to accept their offer, and demand full payment upfront with a statement that the person will never get a better price anywhere else. Additionally, they only have time to do the repairs at that moment. High pressure, now-or-never sales tactics are a hallmark of scams.
  • Research repairmen and repair shops 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 repairman, take a business card, and offer to check out the company they say they are representing to see if it is in fact legitimate and has positive customer reviews. Ask for references to call and verify the quality of their work. If the person cannot wait for you to research and compare companies, find someone else to do the job.