Here’s how to spot a parking ticket scam
Watch out for this new twist on an old scam. Scammers are using new technology to create fake parking tickets that look surprisingly official. So it could be a scam if you receive a parking ticket and are confident that you parked legally.
How this scam works
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. One recent case used a QR code to direct victims to a fake payment website. If you follow the instructions, you’ll end up paying a fine you don’t owe. Also, your personal information will now be in the hands of scammers.
One parker reported the following experience to BBB: “I paid $15 to park in a garage and received a receipt for it, which I displayed on my dashboard. However, I received a violation notice for $56 for the parking receipt not being visible on the dashboard.”
How to avoid fake parking tickets:
- Know before you park. Before visiting a new place, research available parking and local parking requirements. Tourists with out-of-state plates are often the preferred target for parking scams because they need to familiarize themselves with local parking laws.
- Scrutinize the citation. Scammers can imitate logos and city office names, but an imitation website is usually where the scam comes to light. Do an internet search for the city’s official parking ticket websites and compare what you find to what’s on the ticket. 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.
- Double-check the name checks should be made. If the ticket allows for payment by check, take a closer look at the address you have to send your check and how you should make out the address. Checks should generally be to a specific government organization, not a string of initials or personal names.
- See the full article on BBB.org for more tips.
For more information
If you’ve been the victim of a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. By registering your experience, you can help others avoid falling for the same scam.