Police in Santa Cruz, California recently arrested a 19 year old boy who they say created fake parking tickets with a QR code that the targeted victims could scan in order to pay for the phony parking tickets. He then put the tickets on numerous parked cards. The QR code took the targeted victims to a website where they were prompted to pay the fine online.
Parking ticket scams have been increasingly reported for the last five years. They take various incarnations, most commonly either through counterfeit parking tickets as allegedly made by the Santa Cruz teenager or through official appearing email or snail mail letters informing you of a parking fine and luring you into paying online by credit card, debit card or gift card.
Municipalities do not use QR codes on parking tickets. It is a sad state of affairs, but if you do get a parking ticket, you should confirm that the ticket is legitimate and make sure that the address to which you should send your payment is indeed the parking office for the particular city or town.
As for notices that you receive by email that purport to be from a parking authority, you should never click on a link in any email or text message unless you have absolutely confirmed that it is legitimate. The risk of downloading malware or providing personal information to a scammer or identity thief is too great. As for any request for payment by gift card, no parking authority asks for or accepts payments by gift cards so anytime you see such a demand, you can be sure it is a scam.
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