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Tornado victims watch for car fraud

By Tara Baukus Mello · Bankrate.com
Saturday, June 8, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

Victims of the recent Oklahoma tornadoes need to be cautious that they aren’t taken advantage of by insurance fraudsters. The Oklahoma Insurance Department and the National Insurance Crime Bureau said 23,000 insurance claims were filed in the eight days after the tornadoes -- many of them car claims -- and that both agencies were taking precautions to make sure contractors and towing companies didn't embark on fraudulent activities.

One of the biggest concerns was that fraudulent impounders would take the cars without the owners or their insurance companies knowing where they had gone. Prospective car buyers across the U.S. could be affected. If the vehicle identification numbers are not recorded properly, the cars can be crushed, but the VINs can be used to register stolen cars in the future.

The two agencies are working together to patrol the area in both marked and unmarked vehicles, with uniformed and plain-clothed officers helping to deter fraud and watching for suspicious activity. They advised owners working with towing companies to make sure they get everything in writing and to verify everything through their car insurance carriers.

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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