FBI warns of scam claiming drivers owe money for unpaid tolls

Since early March, the FBI has received more than 2,000 complaints from people receiving fraudulent text messages that claim they owe money for unpaid tolls.

The agency released a PSA this week on the "smishing scam."

Here is an example of what the text will look like, according to the FBI:

"(State Toll Service Name): We've noticed an outstanding toll amount of $12.51 on your record. To avoid a late fee of $50.00, visit https://myturnpiketollservices.com to settle your balance."

"Smishing combines two terms, SMS, which is text messaging, and phishing. So it's using text messaging to do a phishing attack," said Paul Keener, cybersecurity strategist at GuidePoint Security.

Phishing is literally a form of fishing, for your information or money.

"I call it a game of would you rather," said Keener, referring to the recent toll road texts, which claim you have a small balance that needs to be paid, or you will be fined $50. "So would you rather pay money you don't owe or pay more money to people that you don't owe? Right. And so what it does is it creates this, this sense of, ‘Oh if I just pay this, it'll be easier.’" 


The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, which manages some of the toll roads in Central Texas, responded to the recent FBI alert in a release.

"While customers can opt in to Mobility Authority text messages reminding them of due dates and payment reminders, our texts do not include balances or ask for personal information," the release stated.

If you receive this kind of text and are worried about owing money, check your account on the official toll service website.

If you do click a link or share financial information, contact your bank right away. 

The FBI also asks that you report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

In general, be wary of any unsolicited text.

"Smishing has been ticking upward," said Keener.