Watch out for these common parking lot scams as you attend baseball games, outdoor concerts and other events this year.
The bogus parking attendant
In this scam, you arrive at an event where an attendant points you to a nearby lot. You pull in, pay for your parking spot and get a payment stub as proof of purchase. But, when the event is over, you look for the attendant who took your payment and they’re gone. And, unfortunately, so is your car.
How it happens: The attendant was no attendant. A clever scammer, who might look genuine thanks to a bogus uniform, simply collected your money and then ran off. Your car was parked illegally in the lot, and the lot’s real owner had it towed.
The fix: Only entrust your car to a parking lot attendant with an official logo, a real sign and a contact number. If you are suspicious, do a quick search on the company.
Also, be sure to examine the “payment stub” before leaving the lot to attend the event. It should appear authentic, and at the very least contain some information about the parking service as well as actual proof that you paid.
The trick-it ticket
This scam starts much like the other. You will attend an event, pay for parking and return to your car when the event is over. Only this time, instead of finding that your car has been removed, you will find a ticket stuck on your windshield for illegal parking. You will also find a helpful note informing you about a lawyer who can help you lower the ticket, or about an online site through which you can pay the fee.
How it happens: Sometimes, the ticket you find on your windshield may be authentic. However, it’s sometimes just a slip of paper that was stuck on by scammers. In both scenarios, though, the helpful note about a lawyer or an online platform for paying the ticket is bogus. The “lawyer” is usually a scammer hoping to scam you out of some cash and the online site is riddled with malware, which can infect your computer or mobile device.
The fix: Avoid tickets by only using official parking lots. Look for real signs instead of just a “Park Here” notice slapped onto a pole. If you are ticketed, look for an official police department logo along with contact information. If you are still in doubt, you can check the authenticity with your local police department.
The phony mechanic
In this scam, you will return to your car after an event only to find that the car won’t start. A “helpful” bystander will offer their assistance — for a price. They may even claim to be a mechanic or an expert in cars. After extorting you for an enormous amount of cash, they will gladly pop open your hood and “fix” your car.
How it happens: The “mechanic” knows enough about cars to disable your vehicle without popping the hood while you were gone. They have immobilized your vehicle in an easy-to-fix way, like disconnecting the distributor or an electrical cable. This way, they can appear to “fix” it in seconds.
The fix: If your car suddenly won’t start and some super-helpful mechanics just happen to be passing by, refuse their offer for “help.” Call AAA or another auto service instead.
To help protect yourself from fraudulent activity, make sure to utilize your Benefits Plus® checking account with SeaComm! Once you upgrade your basic checking to Benefits Plus®, you will gain access to a full range of fraud and identity-theft protection services, including fraud alerts, lost document recovery services, and 90-day Purchase Protection. Your membership also entitles you to savings on Premier “Sign & Drive” 24-Hour Emergency Road Service assistance, discounted pet insurance, prescription savings, and much more. Click here for more information, or stop by your local SeaComm branch to enroll.
For complete information, terms, conditions and exclusions please visit www.benefits-plus.org or call 866-329-7587.
Stay informed with SeaComm’s Fraud Center. As your credit union, we want to keep you and your finances safe. That’s why we created our Fraud Center, which includes valuable resources to help educate and empower our members to protect their assets and identities. Click here to get started!