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Transportation officials warn of E-ZPass scams

Thursday - 7/10/2014, 12:21pm  ET

WASHINGTON -- A new phishing scam is targeting E-ZPass owners along the East Coast, including drivers who live in Maryland and Virginia.

The phishing effort comes in an email that appears to be from E-ZPass, saying drivers owe an unpaid toll. The emails says users can click a link to settle their outstanding bill.

However, the link can expose users' personal information to hackers.

"These emails look very convincing and include logos that make it look official. One of the key points to take away is that E-ZPass would never email an invoice to a driver. Invoices associated with tolling are only sent via the U.S. Mail," says Shannon Marshall, who oversees E-ZPass at the Virginia Department of Transportation.

In fact, E-ZPass says some people are getting these emails who don't even have an E-ZPass transponder or account.

"We do not email invoices to drivers. We always sent a video toll for an unpaid trip through the mail," adds John Sales, spokesman for the Maryland Transportation Authority.

In fact, E-ZPass does not handle unpaid tolls on the 495 Express Lanes, Dulles Toll Road, Dulles Greenway, Intercounty Connector, or any Maryland bridge.

For the 495 Express Lanes, drivers would receive an invoice in the mail from Transurban.

For the Dulles Toll Road, the bill would come from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

On the Dulles Greenway, it would come from TRIP II.

And in Maryland, it would come from the MDTA.

E-ZPass cannot settle past due tolls, at least not at toll facilities in the Washington Metro region.

"Keep in mind, if you're an E-ZPass customer and there's an issue at a toll facility, we first look to see if that license plate is associated with an E-ZPass account. If there's an account in good standing, we can take care of the issue on our end. However, if the account does not have money in it, then we might send them an alert over e-mail. But we would never send an invoice," says Virginia's Marshall.

Both Maryland and Virginia officials are also warning drivers that these hackers may also attempt to call them to obtain their personal information over the phone. E-ZPass will only call drivers about their account after the driver initiates contact and requests a call back.

If a driver receives an e-mail or phone call and is unsure whether it's real, call Maryland E-ZPass at 1-888-321-6824 or Virginia E-ZPass at 1-877-762-7824.

VDOT has posted a warning notice on ezpassva.com and has also provided a sample of the scam emails.

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