RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With the intricacy and believability of scams continuously evolving, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning would-be victims to watch out for a scam using new technology to create believable-looking parking tickets in order to steal your hard-earned cash.

How the scam works

The BBB says the scammers wait until after drivers park their cars on the street or in a garage. After the soon-to-be victims leave their cars, the scammers will use high-tech, hand-held printers to create a fake ticket and leave it on the car’s windshield.

The fake tickets will direct the victims to pay online via PayPal or even use a QR code to direct them to a fake payment website. The outcome of this is the payment of a made-up fine nobody actually owes in addition to the scammers now having the victims’ personal information.

Scammers will often include official-looking logos, according to the BBB, and will argue there will be “dire consequences” if the victims don’t pay. Tourists with out-of-town license plates could be a more common target for these types of scams due to the supposed unfamiliarity with parking laws in a new place.

How to avoid parking ticket scams

The BBB lists several different ways people can avoid becoming the newest victim of a parking ticket scam, including:

  • Know before you park. Before visiting a new place, research available parking and local parking requirements.
  • Examine the citation carefully. Do an internet search for the city’s official parking ticket websites and compare what you find to what’s on the ticket. Government sites should end in a .gov designation, 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 and how it should be addressed.
  • 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.

If you think you’re the victim of a parking ticket scam or any other scam operation, you can report it to the BBB Scam Tracker online.