Parking Lot Scams to Watch Out For
1. The Bogus Parking Attendant
You arrive at an event where an attendant points you to a nearby lot. You pull in, pay for your spot, and receive a payment stub. But, when the event is over, both the attendant and your car are gone.
How it went down: A scammer collected your money and 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’re suspicious, do a quick search for the company.
2. The Trick-it ticket
In this scam, you’ll return to your car after an event to find that you’ve been ticketed for illegal parking. You’ll also find a note informing you about a lawyer who can lower the ticket, or about an online site through which you can pay the fee.
How it went down: Sometimes, the ticket on your windshield is authentic. Or, it’s 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 milk you for some cash, and the online site is riddled with malware.
The fix: Avoid tickets by using official parking lots only. Look for real signs instead of just a “Park Here” notice slapped onto a pole.
If you ticketed, look for an official police logo or check the authenticity with your local police department. If you need the assistance of a lawyer, contact one on your own. Only pay a ticket online if you’re absolutely sure it’s a police site.
3. The Phony Mechanic
In this scam, you’ll return to your car to find that it won’t start. A bystander claiming to be a mechanic will offer their assistance. After extorting you for cash, they’ll “fix” your car.
How it went down: The “mechanic” disabled your car in an easy-to-fix way while you were gone so they can appear to “fix” it.
The fix: If your car suddenly won’t start, and a “mechanic” happens to be passing by, refuse their offers for “help.” Call AAA instead.
4. False Accidents
You’re backing out of a parking space, careful to make sure the coast is clear when there’s a sudden bump. You’ve hit a pedestrian who promises to make an insurance claim against you unless you pay them off.
How it went down: The accident “victim” was hiding out of your line of vision and then leaped behind your car as soon as you started driving.
The fix: Look for a closed-circuit camera and ask the lot’s security if you can review the tape. Hopefully, you’ll see the scammer pulling their ruse.