• How to Spot and Avoid Parking Ticket Scams

    How to Spot and Avoid Parking Ticket Scams

    You’d think that in today’s world we’d have found a way to eliminate scams in our lives, but unfortunately that’s not the case. And, being scammed even includes parking tickets in this day and age! So, if you’re worried about being a part of a parking ticket scam, don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve put together this guide to help you spot a potential parking ticket scam so that you can avoid being ripped off or have your hard-earned money stolen. We’ll also include information about what you can do if you find you are a part of a parking ticket scam.

    What’s a parking ticket scam?

    Scammers pin point potentially vulnerable people and place fake parking tickets on their windshields. They’ll often wait for someone to park incorrectly at busy car parks and then use that opportunity to create a fake ticket and leave it for the driver to discover.

    Unfortunately, parking tickets are easy to replicate, and that’s why the scam works. Official logos are printed onto the parking ticket, and the scammers will even go as far as making the “payment portal” look like an official website too.

    People will assume they have done something wrong and pay the ticket. The problem here is that not only are they paying for something they didn’t do, but the scammers now have their bank account details and can use it to steal money in the future.

    Not only that, scammers will also pressure the motorist into paying up front, while threatening that the outstanding parking ticket will become a legal issue if they don’t. This means that they’re not just taking people’s money illegally, they’re also harassing them too!

    But that’s not the only way you can be scammed with a parking ticket! Read on to find out more!

    How can you spot a fake parking ticket?

    There are lots of ways to tell whether you’ve been issued a fake parking ticket. First and foremost, using your gut instinct can really help. If you didn’t break any parking rules, then why would you be ticketed? If you find yourself questioning why you’ve been ticketed, that might be the first sign you’ve got a fake parking ticket and someone is trying to scam you.

    However, sometimes humans make mistakes! You might have thought you parked properly when in fact, you didn’t. Now you’re questioning whether you might have actually broken a rule, especially if you parked on private land. Don’t worry, there are some other things you can look out for, such as:

    1. Poor spelling and grammar. If there are incorrectly spelled words or grammar in the wrong place, it might be a sign that someone is trying to scam you.
    2. Dodgy looking logos or print. Official parking tickets will have clearly printed logos and information. If yours doesn’t quite look right, don’t assume it’s a real parking ticket.
    3. Unusual looking information of the issuing authority. Every real parking ticket, whether it’s private or council issued, will have proper websites, phone numbers and addresses on their parking tickets. If they don’t look right to you, don’t pay up.
    4. Asking for immediate payment on the parking ticket. Real tickets will give you up to 28 days to pay the ticket, with a reduced fine if you pay within 14 days.

    What kinds of fake parking tickets are there?

    Now that we’ve covered the real parking tickets, let’s look into how you can spot a fake parking ticket. Unfortunately, such things do exist, and many people have fallen into a trap of paying for a parking ticket to avoid any further consequences. There are a handful of different ways you might become a victim of a fake parking ticket scam.

    Spam emails

    The Mirror outlined a fake penalty charge email scam that was going around back in 2020. Essentially, a group of scammers were posing as the HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to try and get innocent people to give over their bank details. These emails were quite convincing at a quick glance, and lots of people were scammed because of it.

    Source: The Mirror

    It’s not the greatest of photos, but motorists all over the UK were receiving emails that look fairly genuine when you first open it. And, with the threat of HMCTS chasing them, a lot of them paid up. 

    The article The Mirror wrote about it states that “The email also threatens an increased fare if you don’t pay, and even a county court claim.”

    However, there are ways to check the legitimacy of it:

    1. Firstly, you’ll never receive a parking ticket via email, and especially not from HMCTS.
    2. The sender’s address doesn’t end with @justice.co.uk – any official email send from HMCTS will all end in @justice.co.uk.
    3. There are spelling mistakes in the email. In the example above, the word “penalty” is spelled as “penality”.

    If you find yourself in a situation like this, do not follow any links within the email. Your next steps should be to:

    1. Forward the email to report@phishing.gov.uk.
    2. Report it to Action Fraud.
    3. Forward the email to The National Cyber Security Centre.

    If you have accidentally clicked on any of the links within the email, get in touch with your bank to make them aware that you might have given your bank details to scammers. They will be able to place your account on high alert and decline transactions while they take action to make your account safe again.

    Fake parking fines on your vehicle

    It’s not very funny, but some people buy fake parking tickets online to prank their friends. In fact, when you search “fake parking tickets”, most of the results are websites selling them for people to use a practical jokes. However, sometimes, this can be left on the wrong car, meaning a total stranger now thinks they owe money for a parking ticket.

    The problem with these tickets is that they do look like the real deal. However, they won’t have any real contact details on them. If this is the case, get in touch with the local council or the owner of the private car park instead to see if the ticket is real. If they deny it, you’ve probably just been the victim of a bad joke.

    Fake parking fines in the post

    While real parking fines can be sent through the post, it doesn’t mean that the one you’ve received is real. If you’re unsure, you’re better off checking the parking ticket is legitimate. For example, if you know you haven’t used any private or council owned parking lately and it seems odd that you’ve received a ticket, you should check the legitimacy of the ticket before taking action.

    This might mean contacting your local council to see if you have a parking ticket against your name, or it might mean contacting the private parking company on their official website or phone number to check the ticket. Either way, withhold payment until you know the ticket is yours and that you actually committed the alleged contravention.

    Fake parking fines from other people

    This option is less likely, but it’s not unheard of either. While it might not be someone trying to scam you, it could be another motorist that’s placed their ticket onto your windshield.

    Make sure you check all of the details on the parking ticket before taking action. This might mean checking the time and date, or even the vehicle registration on the ticket itself. You might find that someone has wrongfully put their ticket onto your vehicle in an attempt to avoid paying!

    Free Parking Ticket Appeal Letter Download

    What can I do if I get a fake ticket?

    If you’re pretty sure that you’ve been issued a fake parking ticket, the first thin you should do is get in touch with the official issuing authority of the ticket. Scammers will use official logos and names and pose as real parking ticket issuers.

    For example, if the “parking ticket” states it’s been issued by CPS Parking but it doesn’t seem right to you, go to the official website and get real contact details to get in touch to confirm the legitimacy of your parking ticket. Don’t use information on the ticket or follow any links if you’ve been sent an email regarding a parking ticket.

    You should also:

    1. Get in touch with Action Fraud and explain your situation.
    2. Speak with the non-emergency number for the police force in your area – there may be other reports of this happening!
    3. Do not take action if you suspect your parking ticket is fake. Take the time to find out if it’s legitimate first!

    How can I avoid being scammed by parking fraudsters?

    It’s quite a scary concept really, that a group of people can prey on innocent motorists to gain their bank information. However, by being more aware of what’s out there, you can avoid falling for a fake parking ticket. If you suspect you might be a victim to a fake parking ticket scam, make sure you:

    1. Speak to someone official about the parking ticket. Don’t use the information on the parking ticket if you suspect it’s fake; contact the issuing authority by looking their details up either through the gov.uk website or visiting the private operator’s official website.
    2. Check the information on the ticket. Make sure that it’s your registration number and that the other information is valid, such as time and date of the ticket being issued.

    What happens if I’ve paid the fake parking ticket?

    If you’ve paid the fake parking ticket, you might understandably be worried about what the consequences are going to be. You’ll need to get in touch with your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. They will be able to place your account on high alert and decline transactions while they take action to make your account safe again

    It’s not a nice thought, but the sooner you get in touch with your bank the better!

    Free Parking Ticket Appeal Letter Download

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    Lucy R.14-11-2020
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