What Happens if My Transponder is Stolen?
When it comes to managing tolls, you most likely are thinking about how you pay your tolls and manage them. You may not have considered that someone may attempt to remove the transponder from your vehicle while you are away. If not taken care of promptly, this could result in thousands of dollars in losses. In 2016, one stolen E-ZPass transponder in Pennsylvania racked up more than $11,000 in fraudulent charges before its real owner discovered the crime. It is easy to believe that this could not happen to you. However, the act of stealing transponders happens more often than you may think and is something you should be aware of.
We have seen an increase in customers reporting transponder theft, and we want you to be aware of the steps you can take to ensure your transponder stays safe on the road and doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
How does this happen?
Often perpetrators will target unlocked vehicles, so they do not have to break in. Once inside the vehicle, a thief simply steals the transponder and replaces it with a non-operating fake one. The perpetrator accomplishes this by swapping the label for another transponder that is often inactive or out of service.
The owner may not realize the device has been swapped because it appears to be the same device. The internal RFID (radio frequency identification) is used by the tolling authority to read the device and toll charges on the stolen device will go to the fleet’s account. This means that the vehicle with the inactive or out-of-service device will incur toll violations and the fleet will be paying charges from the stolen transponder.
In the event you are incurring violations that are not yours or suspect any wrongdoing, we recommend contacting the authorities once you confirm that your device was stolen. If you are a Bestpass customer, we will work with the tolling authorities on your behalf to ensure the charges are correct, and you don’t incur future incorrect violations.
Bestpass also offers a violation payment service that makes it easy to process toll violations you may incur and identify when your vehicle is consistently receiving them. This can help identify if a transponder has been stolen.
How can you keep your transponders/activity safe?
The best way to ensure your devices stay safe is to either remove the transponder from the windshield or lock it in the vehicle cab when no one is present. As an added precaution, be sure to monitor your toll activity regularly. If you notice charges of tolls for roads that are not a part of your regular travel patterns, you should investigate it immediately. If you are Bestpass customer, you can contact customer support to help identify the next steps.
At Bestpass, we provide an alert system in our online portal. This feature allows our customers to set days and times that devices should be in use, helping alert fleets to activity outside of their normal area and travel patterns.
What to do if you suspect wrongdoing?
If you suspect any fraudulent activity, immediately deactivate the tag and forward it to the issuing agency to confirm the RFID. If you are a Bestpass customer, you’ll return the tag to us, and we will work with the issuing agency to confirm the RFID.
Once you have determined that the information is mismatched, you will need to file a police report with your local authority so that they can subpoena transaction records to see if they can acquire any images that prove your case.
Based on the amount of the transaction, your local authorities will determine the best way to pursue it. We do not advise disputing the charges on your card for the suspected illegal toll activity, as this could have adverse implication on your existing accounts. Once the process is resolved by the authorities with the issuing agency, the goal is to get credit for this toll activity.
Are there other ways my information can be stolen?
Another tactic perpetrators will use to gather your personal information is using a phishing scam. Victims of this scam will receive an email appearing to be from Bestpass or a tolling agency. The email will use realistic logos and threatening language to inform you that you owe money for driving on a toll road without paying.
These emails also contain a “hook” in the form of a link to a website where you can view and take care of your supposed fine without fear of "further legal action" against you.
If you receive an email of this nature, it is not from Bestpass or your tolling agency. If you click on the link in this email, the perpetrator running the scam will try to put malware on your computer. By providing the perpetrator with any of your personal information, they will often use it to steal your identity. This goes beyond transponder information and can directly threaten your money, credit rating, and personal security.
How can I make sure this doesn’t happen to me?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that if you do find a suspicious email in your inbox, you should not click on any links in the message or reply to it. If you think the email may be from Bestpass or a tolling agency, please contact the customer service team directly.
To help stay safe from these dangerous scams, the FTC advises you should:
- Never click on any links in emails unless you are certain you know or do business with the sender.
- Never reply to any emails that ask for personal or financial information. Even if the sender is legitimate, email is not a secure way to send such information. In fact, it is never a good idea to include things like your Social Security number or bank account information in any email message, including those you send.
- Always keep your computer security software current and active.
If you think you might have received a phishing scam email or be a victim of one, you can:
- File an official complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s online FTC Complain Assistant.
Transponder theft and email phishing are only two of many ways perpetrators may try to steal your personal information. Bestpass wants to make sure you stay safe and are aware of the best practices to protect your information on the road.
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Not sure which Bestpass plan is right for you? Our tolling specialists are here to help. They can identify the right transponder strategy to save you the most money and time.