in Houston, Texas
Another Texas public agency facing fraud allegations: The North Texas Tollway Authority
Friday, Apr 15, 2011, 10:04AM CST
By Steve Miller
tollway

While we continue to watch the legal saga playing out over fraud allegations at the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, another case of alleged fraud has popped up in the public ranks.

 

Only this time, the officials of the North Texas Tollway Authority have reported it to the authorities, as they are bound to do. 

 

TWIA officials were not so transparent, according to a review by the state, and tried to investigate alleged fraud on its own, according to a report issued last week.

 

The tollway authority in a press release said this week that it had found evidence of possible fraud and had turned the matter over to the Plano Police Department.

 

Meanwhile, NTTA has spoken out against proposed legislation that would make the agency subject to state review in the next two years by the Sunset Advisory Commission. The review would give state officials an idea of the efficiency of NTTA in terms of transparency, business practices and management.

 

Instead, the agency would prefer a local touch when it comes to assessment and review. Never mind that the Sunset Advisory Commission appears to have an aversion to thick bureaucracies.

 

From a Fort Worth Star-Telegram story:

"We were created for the local control of counties. We should be subject to local review," [NTTA Executive Director Allen] Clemson said before a Regional Transportation Council meeting Thursday in Arlington.

On that note,  a cadre of North Texas county officials have asked that NTTA pay for an outside review of its business practices, according to a story in the McKinney Courier-Gazette. This allows the agency, though, to choose its reviewer. And since it is footing the bill, a favorable assessment is more likely. It's kind of like the police commission reviewing police abuse. 

 

So the comment of NTTA Chairman Victor Vandergriff is appropriately upbeat:

"The NTTA does a great job in its construction and management of toll projects in North Texas and I am pleased and happy to participate," Vandergriff said. "Local review speeds the process and brings about any needed change quicker. If it's found that the NTTA needs to work on something, the Authority can only benefit from identifying and responding sooner, rather than later."

***

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.


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Photo of 'Dallas North Tollway' by flickr user rutlo, used via a Creative Commons license.

Comments
Kelly Wolfe
Tuesday, 01/03/2012 - 08:35PM

I've had nothing but problems with NTTA I thought I had it all straighten out til I opened my mail box today Here we go again! I know their are numorus others in my shoes, something needs to be done. I am reporting this to Channel 4, 5 and 8. I'm attaching the letter that I sent them today.

Someone needs to take over NTTA I'm so sick of dealing with them!!! Just when I thought I had everything cleared up here we go again UGH!! They did the same thing to me a couple of times sent me bills for ridiculous amounts said they had been trying to reach me but didn't have my correct address, Humm you found me when the bill got up to(your admin fees) 600.00 Really? So after that I kept calling back just to make sure I was current and they kept the correct address on file, I don't move around. So low and behold what did I get today in the mail 4 invoices 4! all the way back 2010 even tho I just called and paid my bill and was told that all I owed it was like 5.& some odd cents not much cause like I said I kept it caught up sooo there were no problems now she telling me yes they were in a oce file or something idk, and that it was good because it kept me from getting charged admin fees and I can pay it out, are you serious so then I requested to speak to someone else and got ANGLE JAQUESS the call center supervisor, said if I don't pay this fee there will be an additional 6.60 PER TRANSACTION And it gets better she seeing another 53 dollars that have been sent out yet, lol here's your bill but not all of it, well bill you when it gets up to an amount you can't pay so we can tac on the ridiculous admin fees! Thank you very much! And for the record I was told I could have till the middle of Feb to pay it, smh probably have fees added in on it too! lets see, but yeah someone else needs to take that over! This don't stop here...

Steve O.
Monday, 06/18/2012 - 03:34PM

Yet another NTTA Horror story : - THIS WAS MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH NTTA (at total DISASTER!!)

In Oct 2011, I received an NTTA envelope that contained 4 ZipCash invoices. They contained transactions from 5 months to 2 YEARS old - dating from Oct 2009 thru May 2011. I contacted them and stated that I didn't have the $120 spare. They said I could pay what I could when I could. I never received ANY additional notices from them (I was working 60-80 weeks thru Dec 2011) and forgot to pay that first notice, until a collections letter arrived early May 2012. I immediately contact NTTA to find my bill now exceeded $720 - they had added $6.60 PER TRANSACTION. They stated that the subsequent notices were sent USPS Track-n-Trace (which does not provide delivery guarantee BTW) and were not returned, so I "seemingly ignored" them. I'm still trying to determine how one can "seemingly ignore" something one NEVER RECEIVED.

After some research and finding out that this has happened to MANY people, I posted my complaint on a DFW site. I was contacted by the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram Watchdog who went to NTTA with my case. NTTA used "sound bites" from my calls, inferring I refused to pay tolls (again, NOT TRUE) that I was in violation, that I said I would pay and didn't (that was true) and inferred again that I ignored the notices - to justify their position. During call with their Reps, it was implied that the late fees MIGHT (but no GUARANTEES) be waved if I purchased a Toll Tag. In good faith and believing what I was told, I purchased a TollTag - June 1st, 2012. A subsequent email (via Watchdog) with the NTTA spokesperson/Media Relations person (Susan Slupecki) stated that since I did not purchase a TollTag until after my ZipCash invoices when to collections, WAIVING FEES WOULD NOT HAVE APPLIED TO ME!! Does that sound like deliberate misinformation?

ALL NTTA communications were slanted in their favor, and the customer was not given the benefit of the doubt. How DOES one prove that one did NOT receive something via USPS? NTTA has not provided tracking numbers (so I can take this up with USPS) NOR have they provided copies of the late/Violation notices - ONLY the original invoices - which they have said that I can "clearly be heard" in recorded calls refusing to pay. NOT! I have never refused to pay TWO YEAR OLD tolls. I refused to pay the LATE FEES

This is still not resolved, but they have the average customer over a barrel. This will be going to my State Representatives as soon as I can make that happen. This shouldn't happen to anyone.

Donny B
Monday, 07/09/2012 - 08:13PM

I moved to Texas in 2010. I was not familar with tolls. I seen toll manned toll booths at some places , so I pulled over to put money in the bucket. I was unware that you will be tolled even if you see not manned tolls around. This was new to me. So last week I got bills from the NTTA starting from June 2010 until present, being charged almost every day for toll fees. I contacted them and advised them how come I am just now getting these bills?

I would have stop traveling on these so called toll roads or bought a toll tag if I would have know about this. I asked them does it make sense if I did this on purpose to travel almost everyday through these tolls? They said it does not matter. The first person I spoke to advised me that it took so long because I had out of state tags and they did not have permission to search it. That did not make sense, so I escalted the call to a supervisor, who gave me a different answer. She said they go through a 3rd party vender, so it is on them if it takes two years to find me. I escalted the call again and was finally told that it didnt matter if I did not know and that they can cleary tell that I most likely had no idea about how the toll system worked and that it they would of got bills to me sooner, I would not have all these expensive charges. I want to make note that the first person I spoke to said to me, that they get many out of state tags with people who have over $1000.00 worth of bills. I asked her if it is there process to hold onto bills until they charge up high, and then finally attempt to find the victim.

Sounds like a scam to me, please if a law suit is in the works count me in. Thank you.

Mike K
Saturday, 12/29/2012 - 03:42PM

I always get bills from them like a year late with admin fines attached to original tolls. Problem is, this is usually the first time I hear from them. They need a major disciplinary action in my view. Thousands of Texans are frustrated by the fraud and rip-offs.

Melanie M
Wednesday, 01/30/2013 - 09:45PM

I got a collections notice for $78 bucks. I NEVER received a 1st, 2nd, 3rd or any notice previously for it! So, I called NTTA, and they tell me that my tolltag no longer has a balance and those transactions didn't go through. They weren't able to take my payment and told me that I'd have to call the collection agency for them to handle it. I call the collection agency, and the lady takes my info and says that her system is running slow and would call me back on my cell phone in about 5 minutes. Not too long after that, she calls me and has all my info ready to process a payment. As I am about to give her my card number, she tells me that my balance is $3,600. To make a long story short, she wasn't able to tell me what I was paying for besides "FEES", and she sends me to a manager's voicemail. After a few hours of waiting for a call, I did some research on NTTA's website on what I have paid for and tried to figure out where $3,600 would come from! I got impatient and called them back. I finally get a manager on the phone. He has no more info than the last lady. I asked for an itemized bill and ask why I would only receive a collection notice for $78 instead of $3600. He's totally clues but emails me a spreadsheet of invoices within a 6 month period that gives very little info. Basically, it just had invoices numbers with recent dates. They were applying fees and all kinds of crap to invoices that were less than 90,60, & 30 days old. Most of these invoices shouldn't have even gone to collections yet. I've paid $139 dollars in tolls since June 2012, including invoices during those dates. I can't figure out how these invoices would get missed. I faxed him receipts of tolls I've paid during those dates. An hour later, I emailed him back and asked if he received my fax, and I asked if these tolls were the same ones I've paid. He replies with, "Call me back in a week."

They are scammers!! They aren't really sending invoices out and are pushing invoices to collections. They're saying I have about $40-50 in tolls (most within 90days), but I owe $3600. They don't even know if they've been paid.. CLUELESS!!!!

This needs to stop!

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