How to avoid scams with downtown Houston parking lots

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Before you rush to find a parking spot in downtown Houston, there are some steps you should take to avoid being scammed.

As the Houston Rockets continue their playoff run, some fans know scams are a concern.

"If you're seeing the same person that you know and trust, that's the same person, but if you see somebody different you're like, 'nah, that's a scam,'" Jason Kelly said.

Some lots have signs to help, which tell customers to avoid an attendant and use a machine.

But not all places have this guidance.

To find out what you should know, Eyewitness News spoke to Better Business Bureau (BBB) senior director Leah Napoliello.

"You want to examine the attendant very carefully," Napoliello said. "See if they have a uniform or a shirt, or a vest on that shows the actual name of the business operating the parking lot."

If they aren't in uniform, it's okay to ask for further proof.

"You should ask if they have a receipt in advance before you pay," Napoliello said. "Then examine the receipt, see if it has the actual name of the parking lot listed on the receipt. If it doesn't have that identifying information then it's best not to give your money over."

Another piece of advice, trust the technology.

If it's a lot you've used before, and suddenly there's an attendant, the BBB says don't be afraid to use the technology.

"It's probably better to pay the machine itself because sometimes we see instances where someone will impersonate an attendant for the lot," Napoliello said.

Although it might be tempting to pay to park, officials warn, if there's no uniform, receipt or booth, it's best to keep moving.

"You want to report it to the authorities, like the Houston Police Department, so that they can catch the individual, or individuals if it's more than one," Napoliello said.

The BBB said the biggest complaint isn't scams, but issues with people not following directions.

If you're going to use a lot, make sure you read the machines carefully to avoid a tow fee after the game.
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