Driving to Tijuana? Watch Out for This Common Scam

NBC 7 Responds looked at the recent warning for drivers from the U.S.

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Tijuana police are warning people who travel to Mexico to be careful while driving. They say criminal groups target U.S. drivers to try and pressure them out of cash.

These scams, are referred to as "montachoques," as they usually follow a similar pattern. Someone will pull out in front of you while driving, then slam on their breaks hoping you hit their car.

"We recently had a customer who went through it," said Bernardo Vásquez, a State Farm Insurance agent. "He was an older gentleman with California plates."

Vásquez says his client was pressured into paying $600 cash to supposedly repair the damages he had caused.

"They told him his insurance did not cover him down there," said Vásquez. "So they threatened to call the police and have him arrested if he didn't pay money then."

That's not always the case though, some companies will cover your trips within a certain distance of the border. If you're heading to Mexico, here's what you should do:

  1. Double-check with your insurance. Some companies have changed their policies so you may not be covered anymore.
  2. Call your insurance. If you get into an accident, your insurance company should be one of your first calls. Some companies actually have adjusters in Tijuana who can come help you file a claim.
  3. Document the crash. Take out your phone and take pictures and videos of the damage to both vehicles and the other driver's information.

Vásquez also says don't be quick to accept the other driver's Mexican insurance. It might cause you a lot of headaches trying to get your car fixed.

"They're going to direct you to the shop they choose," said Vásquez. "They're going to offer you to fix the car based on the cost of the body shop in Mexico in pesos."

Instead, contact your insurer. Some U.S. companies will handle the repairs and bill the Mexican insurer directly.

Finally, Vásquez says if you get into an accident in the U.S. with a Mexican vehicle, proceed as you would with any accident. Let your insurance handle everything with their Mexican counterpart.

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