CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A new parking scam is swindling drivers out of money.
The Better Business Bureau said there have been seven reports of drivers receiving fake citations after parking in private lots in South End and Uptown Charlotte.
Unsuspecting victims pay the fines online not realizing it's a scam.
"They’ve taken technology to another level to be able to rip people off,” Tom Bartholomy with the BBB told WCNC Charlotte.
Bartholomy explained that the scammers have a handheld device that prints out tickets that look real. However, there are ways to stay vigilant.
Privately owned lots will usually tow or boot a car if it's in violation. So, if someone gets a parking ticket for parking in a privately owned lot, they should triple-check that it's legitimate.
If the ticket says violators can pay the fine with Paypal or Venmo, Bartholomy said that’s a red flag.
If the citation claims to be from the city or police but the car is on private property, that is also a red flag.
“If it’s a private lot or private garage, there’s no jurisdiction,” Bartholomy explained.
It’s the latest warning in parking scams – the other being phony QR codes placed over real ones on ParkMobile signs and meters.
Bartholomy suggested double-checking the URL that the QR code directs users to before paying.
If someone suspects the QR code is fake or that they received a fake parking ticket, Bartholomy suggested notifying the owner of the lot and the city.
Bartholomy added that paying for parking with a credit card also offers some protection in case of fraudulent activity because customers can report it to their bank.
Private companies can issue parking violations in their affiliated garages and lots. However, call the phone number listed on the parking lot sign or online to verify the ticket is real before paying.
Contact Julia Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.