Fake toll booth invoices could lead to computer viruses

A phony email claiming to be from a toll company could install a virus on your computer. (Source: D. Hilk/MGN Online)
A phony email claiming to be from a toll company could install a virus on your computer. (Source: D. Hilk/MGN Online)

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - This coming weekend marks the official end to summer, and many of you may be planning a final road trip with your family.

If you are traveling out of state, there's a scam you need to be aware of.

Consumers across the country are reporting receiving invoices for E-Z Pass for unpaid toll charges. But in fact, they end up downloading a virus onto their computer.

Here's how it works: You receive an email that appears to be from E-Z Pass. It appears to be collecting money from an unpaid toll.

The message says you ignored previous attempts to collect and urges you to act immediately by downloading an attached invoice.

When you try to download the attachment, nothing happens.

Or at least, that is what you think. In fact, you have just downloaded a virus onto your computer.

"Our experience has been that they are going to notify you by mail," advised Michele Mason with the Better Business Bureau. "They would normally get your address from your driver's license. So you have to question how someone who manages toll roads would have your address anyway."

The virus scans your computer for personal and banking information, which opens you up to identity theft.

Here's what to look for to spot a phishing email:

  • Be suspicious of sites that have the brand name as a sub domain of another URL
  • Hover over the URLs in the email to reveal their true destination - do not click. Scammers can make the link appear legitimate, so be careful.
  • Don't open attachments from unknown senders. Legitimate businesses rarely send unsolicited emails with attachments. Always confirm the email is real before you download.
  • Consider how a business would normally contact you.

When in doubt, pick up the phone and call the business' customer support line to check out the legitimacy of the email. Be sure to find the number on your bill or by web search - not the email or website the scammers gave you.

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