Parking scams can be a significant issue for anyone involved in the airport parking process. It can be challenging for those who have never been through an airport parking experience before to recognize a potential scam or understand what to do if you become a victim of one.
Furthermore, although airports should take steps to reduce the likelihood of instances where drivers are scammed, they should also be aware of the types of scams and their prevalence so that they can take steps to prevent drivers from being scammed in general.
For this reason, we have published the following list of the most common parking scam scenarios and how you might avoid them.
Watching the Clock
At most airports, you will find a large clock at the entrance to the parking garage, which indicates how much time is left on your parking ticket. When this reaches zero, your car gets towed, and you must pay a fee before it’s returned to you.
However, if someone watches that clock and then scoops up your vehicle when your parking ticket expires, you’re still going to have to pay the fee for parking at RDU. Avoid this scam by double-checking your car’s location before getting back on the road and ensuring that there isn’t someone attempting to steal it.
It would be best if you also tried to confirm that parking control has not towed your vehicle for being parked illegally or having expired parking.
Using the Wrong Garage or Lot
In many cases, drivers heading for business trips or vacations can park their cars in a “garage” that they’re led to believe is the suitable garage by an unscrupulous valet driver. At this point, they are told that there is a fee for entering a particular lot and given a parking ticket there.
When they return, their car is no longer in this lot, and they are forced to pay the fee before it is returned. If you are unsure where you are supposed to park, ask someone who works at the airport or look for signage posted on the street outside the parking lots.
Getting Stuck With a Fake Ticket
You can get stuck with a fake ticket when a valet driver tells you that your ticket has been lost or torn up, forcing you to exchange it for another one. You might also encounter this scam when you enter the parking garage without realizing that only certain types of credit cards are accepted at the exit gate.
Whatever the case may be, an unscrupulous valet driver may tell you that you have to pay for parking at the exit but that they will waive the fee if you give them your credit card. The fake ticket scam can be tough to avoid because airport personnel are often very busy and sometimes do not have time to check every ticket.
If someone tells you this, ask for another form of payment before leaving unless it’s already printed on your ticket that you have to pay for parking.
Reservations are an essential part of planning for upcoming trips. Some scammers use canceled reservations to get closer to their targets before trying other scams, but they can also be an issue themselves.
When making a reservation at the airport, drivers should confirm that there is no additional fee for canceling it within a specific period. If there is, that can be an easy way for the parking service to scam you out of money by telling you they already canceled your reservation.
While you are unlikely to encounter most of these scams if you are with someone who knows their way around an airport or is familiar with how airports operate, there is still a chance that you could be scammed.
For this reason, it is crucial to protect yourself by taking steps like asking questions when necessary and double-checking your car’s location before leaving the airport.