The cost of parking permit fraud on your business

The cost of parking permit fraud on your business

How common is parking permit fraud at your organization?  Have you ever thought about the effect it has?  Itโ€™s about more than just lost revenues. It is also about costs and controlling unused spaces.  Your team has to find, ticket, and pursue these culprits while they remove parking spaces for drivers who pay. This can be frustrating for employees and customers.

Accessible Parking Permit Fraud

The illegal use of accessible parking permits is a high profile issue.  In many municipalities, parking is available free for holders with accessible permits. This makes these permits valuable to have.  False permits can be obtained legally and misused by others or obtained dishonestly from doctors.  In some municipalities, this is a significant problem.

Statistics on Accessible Parking Permit Fraud

In 2013 in Toronto for example, 800 accessible parking permits were taken away from drivers because they were being misused. The most common form of misuse was by family members. A similar number were taken away in 2015. This created the need for a designated parking enforcement unit to address the permit abuse problem for the city.  In February 2016, the City launched an โ€œAbuse it and lose itโ€ campaign to crack down on misuse.

In 2013, the Portland Bureau of Transportation surveyed the parking situation in the Cityโ€™s downtown and Lloyd Center neighborhoods.  They found over 1,000 cars with accessible parking permits in metered spaces parking free as per the Cityโ€™s policy.  It’s easy to understand why Portland needed to make changes. Especially when you consider that many of those cars parked in spaces for most of the day.  Portland changed their parking practices to require everyone to pay for parking. With this change, their occurrences for accessible parking permits declined by 70%. This demonstrates that many permits were being misused in order to access free parking.

Statistics from 2014 for the State of California show they had 2.6 million accessible parking permit holders. This represents 9% of the Stateโ€™s licensed drivers. UCLA students completed a study in Los Angeles. Results showed 44% of metered spaces were occupied by vehicles displaying fake parking permits.  Also, those cars remained in their spaces approximately 70% longer than other drivers.  Consider that Californina might see a loss of $100 in parking revenue for every fake permit. The State would have forgone about $210 million a year, assuming those drivers would have proper parking permits.

Campus Permit Fraud

Due to the significant improvements in digital imaging technology and do it yourself printing, there’s been an increase in permit fraud on University and College campuses.  Some of the parking permit frauds are easy to spot, while others are more sophisticated.  As a result, some fake permits appear to be very good replicas of issued permits.

In 2015-16, Grand Valley State University saw an increase in permit faking from a total of 9 to 18 identified in the first semester of the following year.  Most of the abuse was by students.  Another case was Conestoga College, who reported that  34 forged permits had been identified, which they anticipate cost almost $9,000 in lost parking fees. Most noteworthy was in January 2016, when Campus Enforcement and Patrol at Memorial University of Newfoundland reported an increase in fake permits.  They identified 70 fake permits across their lots, from October to December.

Prevention

Fake or forged permits can be easy for your best patrol teams to identify. Not every false permit can or will be found. Consequently, removing one does not prevent the driver from repeating the process again. Due to the high demand, there is a “market” for fraudulent or misused parking permits.  3rd parties obtain or create these parking permits and sell them. Municipalities have the similar issues. The misuse of legitimate permits. In conclusion, this can be difficult for patrol officers to identify.

As a result, there are different approaches that can help reduce permit fraud. Approaches can include; requiring frequent renewals for accessible permits, or a tough and controlled application process.  Alternatively, as in the case of Portland, eliminating the benefits that drive misuse like free parking, will also remove the demand.

Solutions are available to analyze data in order to identify things like accessible permits going to out of state addresses or issued to deceased people. Systems can alert officials to many issues, such as medical providers issuing more permits than โ€œnormalโ€.

Permitless with License Plate Recognition

With License Plate Recognition technology, your organization does not require printed permits. LPR associates permits with a vehicle license plate number, which prevents parking permit fraud. There is no physical permit to replicate or alter.  Using cameras mounted on patrol vehicles or at lot entrances can identify vehicles who don’t have valid permits.  Invalid permits can have a variety of causes, such as; no permit, expired permit, or incorrect parking zone.  Organizations who have installed an ALPR system have seen an increase in permit sales and compliance.

LPR has other benefits too, including less reliance on patrol officers to peer in the window of hundreds of vehicles every day.  Drivers appreciate the easy online applications and removing the need for a permit in their vehicle.  Parking operations see savings in printing costs and administrative hours dedicated to permit issuance and management as well.

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