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Staged auto accidents are on the rise

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In this crime, criminals maneuver innocent drivers into car accidents, then make large claims for damage and faked injuries.

The "accidents" impact them three ways.

1. Victims can be injured, terrorized, or killed when the "accident" goes wrong.

2. Their auto insurance rates rise, or their policy will not be renewed.

3. Victims spend time and money on police reports, car repairs, and lawsuits.

These are three kinds of "accidents:"

* Swoop and Squat. He pulls in front of you, jams on the brakes, and you hit him from the rear.

* Drive Down. As you merge into traffic, he slows down and waves you forward. He rams your car and blames it on you.

* Sideswipe. At an intersection with a dual left-turn lane, he sideswipes you if you drift into the outer lane while turning.

* After the incident, a stranger tries to convince you to use a certain body shop, doctor, or lawyer. You get overpriced work, poor treatment, and bad legal advice.

Some ways to protect yourself:

1. Don't tailgate. Avoid the "swoop and squat" by allowing stopping distance.

2. Get the driver's name, address, driver's license, car license, and insurance information. Take photos of both cars and the passengers. Watch how the people from the other car behave. If they seem OK until police come, then complain about pain, something isn't right.

3. Get passenger names, and identification numbers. In a scam, others may say they were in his car and were injured.

4. Call the police even if the damage is minor. Get a police report that describes damage and gives the police officer's name.

5. Only use medical, car repair, and legal professionals you trust.
For more information, visit the Web site insurancefraud.org/protect_your-self_set.html.

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