The next time you find a parking ticket under your windshield, don't assume it's the real deal. It could be a fake.
Beware Of Fake Parking Tickets
The Better Business Bureau is warning drivers that scammers are using new technology to create fake parking tickets. They look surprisingly real, too. So the BBB says it could be a scam if you receive a parking ticket when you are confident you parked legally,
How the scam works
BBB says the scam works like this.
You park in a legal parking zone or pay to park on the street or in a garage. While you are away from your car, scammers use high-tech, hand-held printers to make a fake ticket and leave it on your car's windshield.
This phony citation usually asks you to pay online or via PayPal. The BBB says one recent case used a QR code that sent victims to a fake payment website. If you fall victim to the scam, you'll not only end up paying a fine you don't owe. You'll also be giving scammers access to your personal information.
The BBB says one driver reported this experience: "I paid $15 to park in a garage and received a receipt for it, which I displayed on my dashboard. However, I then received a violation notice for $56 for the parking receipt not being visible on the dashboard."
The BBB also warns in other versions of the scam you could receive an email claiming you have a pending ticket. The email will typically include official-looking logos and a warning that if you don't pay there will be "dire" consequences. But don't fall it and click on the email links, because that is a recipe for disaster. If you click on the links you could download malware onto your computer.
How to avoid parking ticket scams
So how do you avoid parking ticket scams? The BBB shares some ides:
- Know before you park. The BBB says before you visit a new place you should research available parking and local parking requirements. This is especially true for tourists with out-of-state plates. The BBB says they are often the preferred target for parking scams because they need to familiarize themselves with local parking laws.
- Examine the citation carefully. Get a magnifying glass if you have to but read the citation carefully. Scammers can imitate logos and city office names, so what you're looking for is an imitation website. The BBB says that is usually where the scam comes to light. Then you'll want to do an internet search for the city's official parking ticket websites and compare what you find to what's on the ticket. Also keep in mind that government sites should end in a .gov or .ca (in Canada) designation. And if there is a payment page, it should always have a secure connection. Additionally, we think it's also a good idea to call the city's parking department with your questions as well as to report any suspicious parking tickets. You can also report the scam, whether you lost money or not, using the BBB Scam Tracker.
- Double-check the name checks should be made out to. Does the ticket say you can pay by check? If so, take a very close look at the address the check should be sent and how it should be addressed. The BBB says checks should generally be made to a specific government organization, not a string of initials or personal names.
- Pay traffic citations by credit card when possible. The BBB says it's best to pay using a credit card. This will make is easier to contest fraudulent charges if you discover you've been scammed down the road.
Photo Credit: BBB