Drivers Beware: Watch Out for This Toll Notice Scam

A recent warning from the federal authorities cautions drivers to be on the lookout for toll-related scams sent via email and text messages.

As a traveler in many cities, money expert Clark Howard says he can attest to such scams being prevalent right now.

“I’ve gotten the scam texts and also an email recently, telling me that I owe money for tolls. And there’s a new warning from the FBI saying that this is a hot scam area,” Clark says.

Eyes on the Road — and On This Toll Notice Scam

The way the toll notice scam works is that you’ll receive either an email or text message saying that you owe money for driving on a toll road.

The social media account of Colorado State Highway 470 in the Denver area recently shared an example of the toll scam, and it goes something like this:

EXAMPLE: (State Toll Service Name): We’ve noticed an outstanding toll amount of $12.51 on your record. To avoid a late fee of $50.00, visit https://myturnpiketollservices.com to settle your balance.

The account goes on to say, “Toll road customers could be deceived into giving away sensitive data, including credit card information.”

“You need to know that if you receive a toll notice, the information you have and where you’re supposed to pay and all that could be clearly fake,” Clark says.

Because it may be hard to determine whether the notice is real or fake, you're going to have to do some work. Here are some tips from Clark on how to react if you've received a toll notice and can't decipher whether it's the real thing or a real scam:

Toll Notice: What To Do and What Not To Do

Don’t Pay From a Toll Notice

So the email or text message says you owe toll money — the last thing you want to do is believe what you're reading and whip out your wallet to pay. The onus is on you to independently verify that the bill is authentic.

Instead of automatically paying the amount on the toll notice, it’s time to do some investigating.

Don’t Visit a Web Address From the Bill

Some notices will have a web address that looks legit enough, but you should be careful not to visit it online. Going to a website that is on a sketchy toll notice could result in your device being infected with a virus or other type of malware.

Instead, there are some steps you can take to vet that the website is real, including looking closely for any misspellings in the web address. Read our guide on how to spot fake websites.

Alternatively, you could perform a Google search independently of whatever web address you see on the bill.

“You need to make sure you’re at the actual real website of the toll authority. So you don’t go to something that says, blah-blah-blah-slash-violations,” Clark says.

"I always talk about being weary and careful doing a Google search, but if you at least know the name of the toll authority, odds are you're going to be at the legit one. If you put 'violations' in your search, you're going to be quite often, maybe even most of the time, at a phony."

Don’t Click on Random Text Messages

In general, Clark is adamant that you shouldn't click on the links in random text messages. That would apply to emails as well. The way he wants you to protect himself is pretty simple:

“When you receive a text and you don’t know the sender or even if you do know the sender and there’s a link in there they want you to click on, I wouldn’t click on the link unless it’s somebody you absolutely know with certainty.”

File a Complaint

Finally, the X account of Highway 470 in Colorado, advises that if you receive a fake bill, you should file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. When you do, be sure to include the phone number from where the text originated and the website listed within the text or email.

Final Thoughts

Scammers are doing all they can to siphon money from us all. Protect yourself by being shrewd about any text or email correspondence you get saying that you owe money.

Clark doesn’t click on random text messages and neither should you, which is how you protect your sanity and ultimately your wallet.

The post Drivers Beware: Watch Out for This Toll Notice Scam appeared first on Clark Howard.

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