That ‘FasTrak gift card’ is really a scam: Roadshow

Q: Have you heard of any scam or hacking of customer accounts with FasTrak?

I called the phone number on their website and a person offered me a $100 Walmart gift card. I wanted my problem resolved, not a card. When he asked for my credit card number, I freaked out and hung up.

I feel I dodged a scam. I wonder if anyone else has had this experience.

Lynn Narlesky

A: You were wise to hang up. FasTrak does not offer a Walmart gift card. This is the latest scam I’ve heard about. In some, people have gotten fake warnings that auto warranties are expiring. The DMV has been flooded with calls about bogus messages people have received about license renewals and smog checks.

The best tactic is to ignore these scams. Never give out personal information to these likely crooks.

Q: I was reading your answer to the person who questioned the construction of some of our roadways. I said to myself, “Wow, how does Gary know all this?”  I’m curious. How do you know all the information that you share with us on a daily basis? I would love to see a full column of yours just about you. Your training, your background, and of course, Mrs. Roadshow (and your family). I’m sure your readers would enjoy this exposition.

John LaLonde, Indian Wells

A: Thanks, John. I was the sports editor at two Iowa newspapers after completing a degree in political science at Iowa State. I started the first job before completing a masters in journalism. Mrs. Roadshow and I met at the Iowa State Daily, where we were both editors.

I became the assistant sports editor at the Mercury News in 1984. Mrs. Roadshow got her MBA at Cal, worked at Apple, then started a  consulting practice. She serves now as my unofficial first editor. She’s very good, and tough. I’ve never told her, but she’s a much better driver than I am.

Our daughter, Anne, is a certified nurse-midwife. Our son, Matt, works in film and marketing for a Bay Area tech company. They live in San Bruno and San Francisco.

Oliver, our 3-year-old grandson, delighted me by singing, “Take Me Out To the Ballgame” on my most recent birthday.

In 1992, I was asked to tackle this thing called Roadshow, which we were going to test for six months. Nearly 30 years later, I’m still writing the column. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.

Most of my information comes from extensive contacts, and poring over reports from the DMV, Caltrans, VTA, and others. Readers’ questions, as well as trends in them, keep me attuned to Bay Area drivers’ highest priorities and emerging issues.

Look for Gary Richards at or contact him at

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Author: Gary Richards