Warning: Scammers are targeting people in parking lots

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An old scam is back on the streets and people are still falling for it.

The dent repair scam works like this: A thief pretends to be an auto body mechanic and offers to fix your car for cheap.

The only problem is that these crooks have no intention of fixing your vehicles — and once you pay, they run off with the money.

How to put the brakes on a dent repair scam

In recent years, dent repair scams have been reported in big cities like Seattle, Washington and Phoenix, Arizona, as well as smaller ones like Huntsville, Alabama and Wichita Falls, Texas.

This writer was also the victim of a dent repair scam several years ago.

More recently, a relative of a member of Team Clark also nearly fell victim to a dent repair scam in a grocery store parking lot in Atlanta, Georgia. This is what she relayed through text messages:

“A guy in a Mercedes drives up beside me and says: ‘Hey, I work for the body shop at Chrysler. I see you have some damage. You want to get it fixed?'”

He then uses some psychology to get her to make an economic decision on the spot.

“If you take it to the body shop you are looking at $1,200-$1,400,” he says. “I can bless you today for a good price.”

Of course, the first thing you may wonder is “Where are the tools?” But he’s quick with an answer:


“I have the equipment in my car. I have it because I’m going to do my wife’s, and I can do yours too.”

The would-be victim doesn’t fall for it though: “He tells me what he needs to do to fix it. I said, ‘Oh, not today, but thanks.'” But he persists:

“I’ll do it for $160. I want to bless you. I’m off work early for my daughters birthday.”

Despite all the other red flags, she said that when she saw the poor shape of his vehicle, she wondered: “Why hasn’t he fixed his own car?”

Not wanting to waste any additional time, she politely told him no again and asked for his business card, saying that she’d get back in touch with him at another time when she’s not so busy.

“Oh I don’t have a business card. I’m around all the time,” she said he replied. Then he drove off.

Long story short, the only dent this crook was determined to tend to was the one in the woman’s wallet.

In many cases, people who let parking lot repairmen work on their cars, including applying coats of paint or primer, end up with ruined exteriors.

Dent repair scams: Don’t be a victim

If a stranger walks up to you offering you any kind of business, you should politely decline their services and leave the area if you can.

If making an exit isn’t an option, here are some general things you need to know to gauge whether a mechanic is legitimate.

  • Get everything in writing: Before authorizing repairs, you should have a written estimate that explicitly states what is being done to your vehicle.
  • Ask for reviews: Any legit business should have some reviews or testimonials they can produce on the spot.
  • Get a receipt/ invoice: Always make sure you get a receipt for any transaction. If you don’t, there’s no way to prove you’ve been scammed.

Been victimized? Report it

If you’ve become the victim to a crime, contact your local police. If you know of a scam, you can report it to the Better Business Bureau as well as the Federal Trade Commission.

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