Most of us in Ocean County commute by toll road almost every single day. While we usually don't think twice about it, when a friend of mine got a letter in the mail accusing him of a toll violation, he immediately questioned the letter. And it's a good thing too, because it looks like it may be fishy.

The letter states that he owes $52.90 in violations. It had a citation number as well as his license plate number. When looking at the letter, you might think that you must have missed a toll without realizing it, cut a check to the company that sent the letter, and think no more about it.

But what alerted my friend's BS alarm was the fact that he doesn't even have EZ Pass.

He went ahead and called the official EZ Pass phone number, which prompted him to enter the violation number. This is where things got interesting - the EZ Pass system said that it was an invalid violation number, and they informed him that he did not owe them any money.

There are a lot of questionable companies out there that prey on people's fears. When most people get something like this, they worry that their license could be suspended, their credit could be ruined, or worse, so they send the money without thinking twice.

The best practice if something like this happens to you - call the official company (like EZ Pass in this example) first. If you truly had an EZ Pass violation, they will have a record of that and will be able to give you the official information.

Do not call the "collection agency" first, and don't send them money until you have gotten official confirmation from the actual company that they say that you owe money to.

Remember; your name, license plate, and address are all public record, and anyone can find that information and send you a very official looking letter.

UPDATE - 7:00pm - this afternoon, the WOBM newsroom received a warning from the South Jersey Transportation Authority, operators of the Atlantic City Expressway, stating that a number of questionable communications that claim to be from EZ Pass have been going around lately. In the message, the SJTA advises customers, "If you have any questions about the validity of any message received from E-ZPass, please contact your nearest E-ZPass Customer Service Center for guidance."

Photo by J. Laszlo

Have you ever gotten a letter like this? Tell us what happened in the comments.