Residents across region warned of toll scam

It starts with a simple text. The message says you’ve got an outstanding balance on your record, due to unpaid toll fees. It’s nothing much, just $12 or $15 right now. But unless you want to get hit with an additional $50 fine, the message says, you need to click on the link provided and settle your debt. It’s a complete scam and one that’s targeted more than 2,000 people in at least three states, according to the FBI. 

“Since early-March 2024, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received over 2,000 complaints reporting smishing1 texts representing road toll collection service,” the statement from the FBI reads. “IC3 complaint information indicates the scam may be moving from state-to-state.” 

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) issued a warning about the scam on Thursday, April 25, concerned that the scam might arrive here. The link provided in the text message is set up to impersonate a toll facility’s or collection service’s name, and phone numbers appear to change between states. By clicking the link, people could risk giving away sensitive data, including credit card information. 

Both FBI and VDOT officials ask residents not to click any links asking you to pay bills, when they show up like that in text messages. If you happen to have an E-ZPass, set up to debit your account when you go through toll roads in Virginia, you can just log on to the website and check to see if you have an outstanding debt. If you don’t have access to E-ZPass, you can simply call the Virginia Toll Payment Processing Center at 1-888-860- 9361 and they can tell you. 

And if it turns out the text you received is a scam, then FBI officials ask you report it at the Internet Crime Complaint Center, by going to www. ic3.gov.