How to Spot a Parking Ticket Scam


Watch out for this new twist on an old scam. Scammers are using technology to create fake parking tickets that look official. How the scam works You park in a legal parking zone, or pay to park on the street or in a ramp. 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. The phony citation usually asks you to pay online or via PayPal. In one recent case, a QR code was provided to direct victims to a fake payment website. In another version of the scam, you receive an email claiming you have a pending parking ticket. If you follow the instructions in either version of the scam, you’ll end up paying a fine you don’t owe. In addition, your personal information will be captured by scammers. How to avoid parking ticket scams Know before you park. Before visiting a new place, research available parking and local parking requirements. Cars with out-of state plates are often the target for parking scams, because they need to familiarize themselves with local parking laws. 

Examine the citation carefully. Scammers can and do imitate logos and city office names. 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 .gov, and if there is a payment page, it should always have a secure connection. Double-check the name checks should be made out to. If the ticket allows for payment by check, take a closer look at the address the check should be sent to, and how it should be addressed. Checks should generally be made out to a specific government organization, not a string of initials or personal names. Pay traffic citations by credit card when possible. It will be easier to contest fraudulent charges if you discover you’ve been scammed down the road. Report it. If you experienced this scam or another scam, report it to Your report helps to warn others of the scams taking place in the marketplace.

This article is courtesy of Tiffany Bernhardt Schultz, Southwest Wisconsin Regional Director at the Better Business Bureau.

This content is free for use with credit to Madison Senior Center.

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