Highway to hell: Toll SMS phishing scams

April 17th · 6 min read

Rotem Tal - Senior Cybersecurity Expert |Writer & Editor|
Rotem Tal - Senior Cybersecurity Expert |Writer & Editor|

Have you ever received an unexpected toll bill or parking ticket and were then gripped by the fear of late fees? If so, beware—you could be in the fast lane to being scammed. Welcome to the highway to hell of modern scams, where receiving a simple email or text about road tolls can fast-track you to having your credit card details stolen and facing massive fraud charges. You’re most likely a conscientious driver who always pays their tolls and fees on time, and that’s exactly what scammers are banking on.

The fear of incurring late fees often trumps any initial confusion or doubt you might have about the legitimacy of an unexpected bill. This anxiety taps into a widespread behavior—most people are inclined to settle their bills promptly to avoid additional charges and potential financial headaches. Scammers exploit this urgency, they send out fake messages imitating legitimate toll services, claiming you owe them money. Their goal? To trick you into handing over sensitive information under the guise of clearing unpaid tolls.

In this article, we'll guide you through the ins and outs of these toll scams, explaining how they work and the red flags to watch out for. More importantly, we'll provide you with practical tips on how to steer clear of these scams. Additionally, we’ll introduce you to Guardio’s cybersecurity software and app, essential tools that serve as your first line of defense in safeguarding your digital journey from such threats. Let’s put you in the driver’s seat of your online security and ensure your personal information remains locked down.

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Fake toll payment site

Toll SMS phishing scams

The FBI has recently sounded the alarm on a crafty scam that's making its way across the country. This elaborate con combines SMS phishing - or "smishing" - as well as a sophisticated phishing email campaign. Both forms are cunningly crafted to trick Americans with fictitious unpaid road toll notices.

A surge in toll SMS scams

Over the past month, a notable uptick in these scams has seen thousands fall victim, prompting an outpouring of reports to federal authorities. In the past 2 months, The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center has collected over 2,000 complaints about these deceitful messages. Whether via SMS or email, they impersonate road toll services from various states, sowing confusion among recipients.

How toll SMS scams work

These messages uniformly claim that the recipient owes money, a social engineering tactic designed to induce panic and prompt immediate action. Clicking on the links within these messages takes you to sites expertly crafted to mimic legitimate state toll service websites. Once you land on what appears to be a legitimate and official site, you are urged to enter your personal information and credit card details to "settle the debt." But here’s the catch: by doing so, your credit card and personal information could be stolen, sold on the dark web, and used to rack up fraudulent charges. Worst of all, your identity could potentially be compromised. Receive a suspicious toll scam message?

The FBI has outlined several steps to take if you find yourself targeted by these sophisticated phishing attacks:

  • Verify directly: Always check your toll account through the official service website rather than clicking on any links in the messages.

  • Contact customer service: If in doubt, reach out directly to the official customer service for the toll service to confirm any outstanding charges.

  • Delete the message: Remove the fraudulent text message from your device to prevent future accidents.

  • Report it: Immediately report the phishing attempt at ic3.gov, including the scammer’s contact details and the website URL mentioned in the message.

  • Install cybersecurity software: Protect yourself by using cybersecurity tools like Guardio on all your devices. Guardio helps block phishing emails, filter scam texts, and stop malicious links dead in their tracks, safeguarding your money and personal information.

If you have Guardio installed, then no worries—it will block the website immediately, preventing any harm. But, if you don’t, it's important to act fast to protect your personal and financial information. The FBI advises closely monitoring your accounts for any unfamiliar charges and disputing them without delay to minimize any potential financial damage.

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Protect yourself from text SMS message scams with Guardio

In the age of rising SMS toll scams, protecting your mobile device with reliable security software isn't just recommended; it's essential. Guardio offers robust SMS phishing protection that goes beyond basic defenses by actively scanning and analyzing every incoming message for signs of phishing or fraud.

Guardio not only detects potential threats but also blocks them before they can do any harm. It flags suspicious links and content, providing an immediate alert about potential threats, ensuring you're informed before you make the mistake of clicking. With Guardio's vigilant protection in place, you can navigate your digital life with confidence, knowing that your mobile device is shielded from the clever tricks of modern scammers. Whether it's a disguised toll fee scam or any other type of SMS fraud, Guardio keeps you one step ahead of the fraudsters.

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Graphic of cars in waiting to pay toll

Staying safe

With Guardio, you can protect yourself from toll sms phishing scams and other online threats. Guardio stops phishing attempts, secures your social accounts, and keeps you informed about potential breaches.

Why Guardio?

With over 1.5 million happy customers, Guardio is your #1 ally in the digital age. Offering tools and alerts to keep scammers at bay. Try it out with a 7-day free trial and see how it strengthens your online security!

When it comes to scam texts, its hard to spot the real from the fake

Stay one step ahead of SMS scams with Guardio's real-time text alerts.

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