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Want to jump on the fast lane to becoming an identity theft victim? Simple! Just fall for the dangerous and tricky E-Z Pass email phishing scam.
The E-Z Pass system automatic toll collection system allows subscribers to avoid having to stop at crowded highway toll plazas. Once the driver has set up an E-Z Pass prepaid account, they receive a small electronic transponder that attaches to the inside of the windshield of their vehicle. When they travel thru a toll facility where E-Z Pass is accepted, an antenna at the toll plaza reads their transponder and automatically debits their account the appropriate amount for the toll. E-Z Pass is currently available in 17 states, with over 35 million E‑Z Pass devices in circulation.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, potential victims targeted by this scam get an email appearing to be from their state E-Z Pass toll road agency. The email will have a realistic E-Z Pass logo and will use pretty threatening language to informing you that you owe money for driving on a toll road without paying or using E-Z Pass. The email also contains the “hook” in the form of a link to a website where you can view your supposed invoice and take care of your supposed fine without fear of "further legal action" against you.
The scam email is not from the real E-Z Pass Group, an association of toll agencies in 17 states that manages the popular E-Z Pass program. While the E-Z Pass system operates in only 17 states, and your state may not even have any toll roads, you may still be targeted by the E-Z Pass scam, because the scam emails are being sent to consumers nationwide.
The Worst That Can Happen
If you click on the link given in the email, the scumbags running the scam will try to put malware on your computer. And if you give the fake E-Z Pass website any of your personal information, they will almost certainly use it to steal your identity. Goodbye money, credit rating, and personal security.
How to Protect Yourself from the Scam
The FTC recommends that if you get the E-Z Pass email, do not click on any links in the message or try to reply to it. If you think the email may really be from E-Z Pass or if you think you might actually owe a toll road payment, contact E-Z Pass customer service to confirm that it is really from them.
The E-Z Pass email is only one of a seemingly endless list of similar phishing scams, in which scammers pose as legitimate businesses in an attempt to steal consumers' personal information.
To help stay safe from these dangerous scams, the FTC advises:
- Never click on any links in emails unless you are certain you know or do business with the sender.
- Never reply to any emails that ask for personal or financial information. Even if the sender is legitimate, email is not a secure way to send such information. In fact, it is never a good idea to include things like your Social Security number or bank account information in any email message, including those you send.
- Always keep your computer security software current and active.
How to Turn the Scammers In
If you think you might have gotten a phishing scam email or be a victim of one, you can:
- Forward the suspect email to [email protected] and to the company impersonated in the email.
- File an official complaint with the Federal Trade Commission's online FTC Complain Assistant.
The E-Z Pass Transponder Theft Scam
Another dangerous E-Z Pass scam has nothing to do with email. In this simple act of costly mayhem, thieves find cars and trucks that have been left unlocked so they do not have to break in. Once inside the vehicle, the thief simply steals the victim's E-Z Pass device and replaces it with a non-operating fake one. In a matter of seconds, the crime that can cost the victim for months, or at least until they figure it out. In 2016, one stolen EZ Pass transponder in Pennsylvania racked up more than $11,000 in fraudulent charges before its real owner discovered the crime.
As police advise, avoiding the E-Z Pass transponder theft scam is simple: Lock your car or truck.