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How To Beat Illegal Car Clamping Scammers – And Save £300

Fake SIA IdentificationRecently we were on the receiving end of an attempted hustle by some fake wheel clampers. They’d immobilised one of our vans and were refusing to take the clamp off unless we paid £300 cash there and then. No credit cards allowed because of “possible fraud”. That set our own fraud alarm bells ringing and, after some investigation, we called the police who agreed to come down. When our hustlers heard the police were coming, they rapidly removed the clamp from our wheel, jumped in their car and sped off.

And what kind of car did our scammers jump into to make good their escape? Only a Jaguar X-type! Clearly the scam pays well, or perhaps they often need to leave the scene of the crime in a hurry! Unfortunately for them, their getaway wasn’t quick enough to prevent us taking down their vehicle registration number and passing it on to the police.

So, if any of you ever have a similar situation, here are our top tips to avoiding being scammed by fake clampers:

  • The code of practice relating to clamping says:
    • Maximum standard charge: £75 (maximum charge if unpaid £150). Parking company’s name, address and phone number must be displayed in car park and on ticket. So our £300 is way over this £75 figure.
    • Unfortunately, if your car is parked on private property, like ours was, clampers can still charge you whatever they like to remove the clamp. If you believe you have been overcharged, you have to make claim in a civil court as breaking this part of the code of practice is not a criminal offence. Obviously, if the clampers are not legitimate and working for a real company, then you’ll have no one to take a claim out against!
    • Parking rules must be clearly displayed. Here is the very poor effort on the wall of the car park where we parked – it looks as though it had been stuck up that same day. Note it’s missing the company’s address, which the code requires to be shown.

    Dodgy Rules

    • The phone number must connect with a person, not an automated payments system. The number given on the rules went through to a voicemail, with no indication of company.
    • Staff to wear uniform and carry ID. They must not escort drivers to cash machines.
    • TOP TIP: All clampers must be licensed by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). Any unlicensed clamper is committing a criminal offence and the police would arrest any such individual.

Having gone through the above list getting increasingly suspicious but with our con artists sticking resolutely to their guns and demanding £300, we finally rumbled them on the ID point. Only one of our clampers had any ID (pictured above) but when we checked it (by calling the SIA on 0844 892 1025 and on the SIA’s website) we found this was not a genuine SIA number and therefore that this was definitely a scam.

At this stage we called the police for the second time and they were happy to come down now that we’d established that the clampers were acting illegally. By this time our rogues had started to lose their nerve and said they would accept £150 instead of £300 (which then dropped 5 minutes later to £100), as “the tow truck has broken down so we can’t tow you”. We declined their kind offer saying we’d prefer to discuss it with the police officers who were on their way down from the local station.

Funnily enough, 2 minutes later our “clampers” decided they didn’t want a nice chat with a police officer and made good their escape!

With thanks to www.penaltycharges.co.uk, which was where we found the code and which helped save us £300!

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  1. January 25, 2008 at 2:09 am — Reply

    Interesting. Panorama (the BBC’s flagship investigative journalism programme) did a fairly aggressive programme about the FIA tonight. Hmmm. I guess it makes following the above advice even more important.

  2. May 25, 2008 at 11:37 pm — Reply

    Oh dear – I definately got scammed today after reading this… can’t believe it… Did manage to pay £62 instead of initial £117.80 quoted. There was a sign up and I was on private property, but I think the person who clamped me was just cruising round looking for somebody to clamp who’d done the same thing as me. No mention of any company name etc. etc. I learnt my lesson – don’t be so trusting!

  3. May 26, 2008 at 11:42 am — Reply

    Hi Vanessa Sorry to hear you got stung. Still, given how greedy these people are, I guess you were lucky not to have got hit for the full £117.80. Hopefully, having read the above, this will be the last time you get taken in! Thanks for commenting and glad we were able to help. 🙂

  4. January 19, 2009 at 4:38 pm — Reply

    To be honest I think clamping is nothing more than highway robbery, Clamping is actually classed as robbery in scotland, I used to be a clamper, I now make anyone I can aware of how to get out of the clamp, All the above info is good, But please remember to remain calm, as the clampers have heard ALL the sob stories before, You are far more likely to have a helping hand from the clampers if you are nice to them, In the time I was doing the job I was threatened with most weapons with those type of people I made dam sure they paid the fine, But the nice people I advised how to get off with the fine.

  5. January 19, 2009 at 5:49 pm — Reply

    Hi there…thanks for the comment. Very good advice…keeping one’s cool in any situation of conflict is always to be advised as you’ll just rile the other side otherwise. Great to hear that confirmed from someone who’s actually been in the job though. Thanks for commenting!

  6. July 21, 2009 at 2:35 pm — Reply

    My view on car clamping is it is highway robbery Dick Turpin would have been proud of. IF your car is not worth a lot go and hire an engine driven disk cutter and cut the wheel of with the clamp and let them have it. Making sure dont damage the clamp. Or if you know anyone with a tow truck get them to tow it home for you clamp and all.

  7. July 29, 2009 at 6:00 pm — Reply

    Hi David. Your comment certainly raised a chuckle in the Flowers HQ office! Cutting the wheel off one of our vans would be pretty amusing to see the clamper’s face as you handed them the wheel and clamp! Agreed though that it’s a total rip off. A licence to print money for the clamping party. Not on.

  8. March 8, 2011 at 11:55 am — Reply

    I got stung last Thursday on private property (stationery for less than 2 minutes) when SEC & Associates turned up and clamped me. Final fee to have the clamp removed = £410.00 £200.00 unclamping fee £150.00 tow truck fee – even though none was called £ 50.00 after 17.00 hrs call out fee £ 10.00 card fee What I have found out since that even though this clamper had a licence (SIA) the rules of issue from SIA states that the front line employee who is directly involved in the clamping process MUST at all times be wearing their licence – mine did not…

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