Colorado attorney general confirms Wyatts Towing investigation

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser on Monday took the unusual step of publicly acknowledging his office’s investigation into Wyatts Towing, days after a state senator who helped write last year’s towing legislation said she was illegally towed.

Weiser told The Denver Post in an interview that Sen. Julie Gonzales’ case exemplifies the concerning behavior from Colorado’s largest towing company that prompted his office’s probe last year.

“You shouldn’t have to be a state senator to be treated fairly,” Weiser said. “Sen. Gonzales didn’t have to pay the substantial fee only because she had the knowledge and ability to advocate for herself. Most people wouldn’t be in that position.”

State investigators will be contacting Gonzales, Weiser said, and adding her testimony to the growing body of evidence the office has collected.

“We want to make sure we’re protecting consumers and taking on any company that preys on people unfairly,” he said.

Weiser’s comments mark the first public acknowledgment of the Wyatts investigation. In July 2022, The Post reported that investigators with the attorney general’s office had opened a probe into the company, requesting case reports and documents dating back multiple years.

The investigation, like most other probes involving Weiser’s office, had been kept under wraps. But Gonzales’ public announcement blew it out into the open.

The Denver Democrat, in a social media thread Thursday, detailed her own experience with Wyatts after attending an event in north Denver.

She and a friend went to grab nachos after the event, leaving her Honda Accord in a parking garage attached to a mixed-use development. The signs read “no overnight parking” — which shouldn’t have been a problem, Gonzales thought. After all, she planned to return well before midnight.

But when she got back to the lot, Gonzales found three Wyatts employees idling by her parking spot. Her car had been towed.

At the Wyatts tow yard, the elected official spoke with a pair of women who were in the same boat. They had just paid hundreds of dollars to retrieve their cars. Gonzales told them about the new law she helped write last year, which allows people to get their cars back if they pay 15% of their fees or $60, whichever is lower. They would still be on the hook for the balance, but that sum could be paid over time.

The women, Gonzales told The Post, were never informed of this option.

“Her jaw dropped,” she said of one of the women. “The look of sadness, of disdain. She was shell-shocked.”

Gonzales, of course, knew of this provision. She asked to pay her $353.47 bill in installments. The Wyatts employee said it would need to be approved by a manager. So the Denver Democrat waited patiently for 40 minutes as the hour approached midnight.

Instead of paying full freight that night, Gonzales handed over $53.

“Wyatts is committing the sin of omission by not letting people know their options,” she said.

Gonzales said she submitted a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission, which regulates Colorado’s towing industry. On Friday, the morning after the tow, she received a message saying she’d be refunded due to an incorrect tow.

Now she’s committed to strengthening HB22-1314 during the next legislative session to ensure her experience doesn’t happen to others.

“We passed the Towing Bill of Rights last year to protect Colorado consumers, and it looks like we have a lot more work to do,” she said.

A lawyer for Wyatts did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

The company’s CEO, Trevor Forbes, has been under fire in recent public hearings, with lawmakers, consumer advocates and the attorney general’s office accusing the company of engaging in illegal, predatory loans.

Forbes has said the new law is murky and that the vast majority of people who use the 15% or $60 provision never pay the remaining balance.

The chief executive recently resigned from a state towing task force amid the accusations and AG investigation.

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