Officials: Philly tow company to pay thousands in restitution for illegally towing cars

A Southwest Philadelphia tow company has been ordered to pay thousands in restitution after being accused of illegally towing cars throughout the city, officials announced Monday.

George Smith Towing, of South 61st Street, and owner Anthony D'Angelo, violated Pennsylvania's Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, the Towing and Towing Storage Facility Standards Act, and Philadelphia's towing ordinance, according to the Bureau of Consumer Protection investigation.

The settlement resolves the case and obtains full restitution for 28 consumers who filed complaints after being towed.

"Parking in the city is hard enough without the threat of your car being illegally towed," said Attorney General Shapiro. "This settlement is about protecting consumers from illegal conduct and getting them restitution. We'll fight for every consumer who files a complaint with our office. In this case, we're getting each consumer full restitution after their cars were wrongly towed - $205 apiece."

In 2017, the Bureau of Consumer Protection returned $19 million to the Commonwealth and saved Pennsylvanians who contacted the Bureau $3 million - an average savings of $134.38 per consumer. The Bureau of Consumer Protection received 21,942 complaints in 2017.

MORE: Concerns over alleged predatory towing

At the press conference, one consumer - who was towed from a North Philadelphia lot after being parked for only 10 minutes - told her story. She said she did not see any signs warning consumers of the risk of being towed. When she attempted to retrieve her car from George Smith Towing, a worker at the lot informed her that the credit card machine was "broken" and she would have to pay in cash.

"I was outraged when I learned my car had been towed after being parked only 10 minutes," said Meredith Cohen, a Temple University student whose car was towed last October. "I thought there was no way to ever get my money back. But Attorney General Shapiro held this business accountable. I'm grateful his Bureau of Consumer Protection was able to get me a full refund."

The Bureau of Consumer Protection investigation revealed that in some instances, George Smith Towing and its owner failed to accept credit cards, towed vehicles where signs were not clearly displayed, charged vehicle owners more than the lawful amount and towed vehicles that were not illegally parked from public streets, among other charges.

Residents who believe they have been similarly affected are urged to call 1-800-441-2555 or email Consumers can also submit a complaint here.