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Towing alerts common question

We have answers to frequently asked questions about our towing alert system.

What does this alert system do?

You can sign up online for towing alerts with your email address and license plate number. If your car is involuntarily towed in Boston's jurisdiction, then the system will email you.

What towing does this apply to?

The alert system will work for any vehicle towed from City of Boston property. This includes cars towed for:

  • street cleaning
  • unpaid tickets
  • snow emergencies
  • as abandoned, and
  • by Boston Police Department directive.

It also covers cars towed from private property, such as the parking lot of your favorite donut shop.

Not included in this system are cars towed by the Massachusetts State Police. For example, vehicles towed from the Jamaicaway and Storrow Drive fall under the jurisdiction of the State Police. The City of Boston does not have access to this data.

Why send alerts?

Alerts are intended to provide timely notification of the tow. Once alerted, drivers will be in a position to get their vehicles quickly and avoid the accumulation of storage charges.

How soon will I receive alerts if my car is towed?

Alerts are sent within 10 minutes of the tow being reported. Notifications are based on information entered into the Boston Police Department towing database. Cars towed to the Boston Transportation Department's Frontage Road tow lot have their information entered into the database as they arrive at the lot. However, when a car is towed to a private tow lot (such as for street sweeping), it is the responsibility of the tow operator to inform the Boston Police Department. This extra step may delay the process of entering the information into the database.

How many license plates can I register for alerts?

Users are limited to 10 plate numbers per email address. If you own a fleet and have a legitimate business need for alerts for more than 10 license plates, then please describe your case to no-tow@cityofboston.gov and we will find a way to accommodate you.

How do you unsubscribe?

You can unsubscribe from the subscribe webpage, by toggling the "add/delete" option.

Am I already subscribed?

To obtain a list of license-plates your email address is already receiving alerts for, submit your email address on the remind-me page.

What information is contained in the alert?

If you subscribe using the "HTML Email" form, then towing alerts will contain full details. If you subscribe using the "TXT" form, then because of TXT message length restrictions, your towing alerts will only contain a link which you can follow to get full details.

Is there a charge for alerts?

There is no charge from the City. However, your cell phone company may bill you for TXT messages you receive.

What are the privacy concerns?

The towing of a vehicle is already considered public information. Today, anyone can contact the Boston Police with a license plate number and ask if it has been towed.

Please note: Although towing alerts are intended as a service to vehicle owners, the City of Boston is not in a position to prevent others from using the system as well. Companies in the business of repossessing vehicles frequently register for towing alerts. This may result in a vehicle being repossessed directly at the Tow Lot prior to the registered owner having an opportunity to reclaim the vehicle.

Why did I receive an alert when I was not towed?

In rare cases, constituents may receive alerts when their car was not towed. There are three possibilities:

  1. First, there may have been be a typo in reading or entering the license plate number. In this case, the make and model of the towing record will not match your vehicle.
  2. Did you move your vehicle at the last minute from a street scheduled for street sweeping? You may have been successful in escaping the tow after it was telephoned in by the towing company, but before they could hook up a winch to your car. In either of these cases, you can safely ignore the alert. You can also call the towing line to report the error in the database.
  3. If you received an alert for a license plate that you held in the past but was reissued by the registry to another person's vehicle, then please click the unsubscribe link in the alert you received. You will never receive future communication related to that plate.
Still have questions? Contact:
Transportation
1 City Hall Square
Room 721
Boston, MA 02201-2026
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