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Fighting Counterfeit Tickets in your Pay and Display Parking Operation

When using a Pay and Display parking approach, one has to be aware of the possibility of counterfeit tickets sitting on the dashboards of vehicles. A counterfeit ticket can easily be made by using an expired ticket and scanning it into a personal computer. Then by using graphic editor software to alter the day and time the ticket expires, the fraudulent ticket is then printed out and cut to size. How can enforcement officers know if a ticket is real or not while peering through a dirty windshield? This article will discuss a few options to help with this problem.

Change to a Pay by Stall approach If your parking operation is on a Pay and Display system and can easily be converted to a Pay by Stall system, it may be worth converting. The Pay by Stall system fights the counterfeit ticket problem by eliminating the dependency of the enforcement officer to visually check tickets placed on a windshield. Instead, the parking meter records payment activity and what stalls expire at what times. The enforcement officer simply prompts the parking meter for an expired stall report eliminating the visual ticket check.

All you really need to convert to the Pay by Stall system are stalls that can be numbered, a parking meter that can deal with Pay by Stall functionality, a parking operation compatible with Pay by Stall, and a rate structure that allows you to use the Pay by Stall approach. Unfortunately, not all parking operations can use Pay by Stall. Some rate structures may allow parkers to leave their parking spot and come back at a later time (remaining unoccupied) while others may involve stacking cars behind each other. These types of operations will not work with Pay by Stall and tickets do need to be dispensed by the parking meters.

Even with the Pay by Stall approach to parking, counterfeit receipts can still come to your attention after a citation is issued. The parker may come back to you with a citation and a Pay by Stall receipt that proves he/she did not park in an expired stall. The problem is of course; how do you know if this receipt is authentic? Your database will tell you. Most modern electronic parking meters have built-in databases that track every transaction with ticket numbers and date stamps. If your database agrees with what the parker's receipt says, then it's an authentic receipt and an error was made in handing out a citation. If not, the receipt most likely is a counterfeit.

Get creative with your printed tickets If Pay by Stall is not a viable option for running your parking operation and Pay and Display is, there are steps you can take to minimize counterfeit tickets. Most modern electronic parking meters allow some programmability as to what is printed on the ticket allowing you to randomly change the display on the ticket. For example, you may decide to change the welcome line on your ticket every week to something unique. Then communicate this change to your enforcement officers as to what the weekly welcome line will say so they can quickly discern a fake ticket to an authentic one while on patrol. To really make this approach effective, you will most likely alter the day of week when the welcome line gets changed to keep those counterfeit thieves guessing.

This may seem like a huge undertaking to change the ticket contents on a weekly basis but more and more parking meters are now hooked up to the internet and can be accessed online. In this case, all it takes is a few mouse clicks to change all the parking meters in your network to include thes