HOUSTON – Fans of the Houston Astros will flock to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday and Wednesday for the first two games of the World Series, and swindlers are already looking for ways to make a quick buck off those parking near the stadium.
Here's a closer look at the frequently used parking lot scam and ways to prevent becoming a victim.
What's the scam, again?
The grift is simple: Someone who has no legal claim or right to charge people to park in a space or lot sets up shop and takes cash from unsuspecting customers.
The scam is really a double doozy. First, you lose the money you paid to park, and then you often pay again to have your car released from either a boot or impound lot.
The most proficient scammers look the part, wearing a knit shirt with logo, holding a roll of dash receipts.
The bigger the event, the better the chance that scammers will invade the lots.
Historically, lots have been able to disclaim responsibility by posting signage that states "Pay at pay station" or "Attendant not on duty."
How to not get scammed
It's tough to defend yourself against this type of scam, but there are a few tips to remember before you pay and park.
First, as inconvenient as it seems, read the small print on the parking signs. Are there specific instructions about how payment is accepted at the lot? Most larger downtown lots have signs that include instructions, disclaimers and contact information: Look for those signs.
Beyond signage, scan the parking lot for parking kiosks. If there is a machine that accepts payment and dispenses dash receipts, then do not pay an attendant. Use the kiosk.
Be highly suspect if the attendant tells you that the machine is broken or that the machine is for prepaid customers only."
Ok. So where do I park?
One great resource for World Series parking is DowntownHouston.org/parking. It also comes in handy for other downtown events. It includes a list of parking places and rates as low as $5.
Click2Houston.com also has a guide to cheap downtown parking secrets here.