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Washington toll collectors need to tighten payment security, according to audit

As the car's bumper breaks the laser curtains, cameras capture the front and back license plates and a sensor pings for any Good To Go transponders.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols
As the car's bumper breaks the laser curtains, cameras capture the front and back license plates and a sensor pings for any Good To Go transponders.

Stricter security is needed when it comes to people's payment information for Washington’s four highway tolls.

Overall, the toll system needs improvement. That's the summary of a state audit on WSDOT’s toll division.

If you have received a toll bill months late, or have been charged late fees before you knew you had a toll to pay, the state auditor's office says you're not the only one. Those issues were all pointed out in the audit.

Another big issue is security.

The report says the vendor who collects payments hasn't met all industry security standards. Senior performance auditor Sohara Monaghan says that means there is less assurance that payment info is secure.

Monaghan: "Even if the agency complied with the requirements, there is always risk. What compliance with this requirement does is protect the confidentiality and security of customer payment information, that provides people more assurance that their information is safe."

The toll division says it's on the way to addressing compliance and other issues. Patty Rubstello is the division’s assistant secretary.

Rubstello: "They've completed the certification at that highest level, we just need to submit now the final document. And I'll just note that we don't believe at any time this information has been at risk."

Her division also has plans to fix the other problems outlined in the audit.

Auditors hope that happens soon, before the next electronic toll opens. That is planned for Seattle's developing state Route 99 tunnel.