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Toll scam ‘E-Z’ money for crooks

A new email scam that popped up this month may seem like highway robbery ... and some may be paying a high price as a result.

People across the country have fallen victim to a new scam that sends authentic-looking emails notifying people of supposed road toll violations and overdue bills from the E-ZPass automated toll system used on toll roads throughout Massachusetts and 14 other states.

The sender often appears to be: “E-ZPASS Customer Service Center,” with a subject like “Payment for driving on toll road.”

The emails, which use official-looking logos, tell you to click a link to download your invoice. But the link actually leads to a computer virus used to mine personal data for identity thieves, or fraudulent websites asking for a credit card number.

The websites the emails link to also look official, and the scammers can even trick your computer into displaying the web address of a valid EZ-Pass site in your browser’s address bar.

E-ZPass is advising customers not to open these emails or follow the links they contain.

To see if you actually owe E-ZPass money, visit the company’s website directly, at www.ezpassma.com for Massachusetts customers. You may also call E-ZPass customer service at 877-627-7745.

If you have fallen victim to this scam or a similar one, you may report it to the Internet Crimes Complaint Center, run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and to the National White Collar Crime Center, at:

www.ic3.gov

E-ZPass is used in 15 states, from Indiana across to Maine and down to North Carolina, and the company is advising customers throughout its coverage area to be wary of the scam emails.

The practice of using official-looking emails and websites for the purpose of fraud or identity theft is called “phishing.” Perpetrators cast a wide net by sending out thousands of emails in the hopes that a few will net them victims.

E-ZPass customers aren’t the only targets of phishers.

Major banks and credit card companies, the US Postal Service and other shippers, Netflix and other online services and retailers like the Apple Store have all been recently used as the front for such scams.

Sometimes they seek payment, others contain viruses, and other times they’re after your account login or personal information like your social security number.

If you receive an unsolicited email from any company or agency seeking payment or account information or directing you to a web link, contact the company directly rather than replying to possibly fraudulent emails or following the links within.

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