NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some drivers have become confused about a Port Authority effort to collect money from toll violators – thinking it’s a hoax and a scam.

But it’s not.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, Anthony Spennato of Staten Island received a letter receiving $58 for unpaid tolls from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He was skeptical right away.

“Anybody could have sent it out,” he said. “It didn’t look official at all.”

Spennato is not alone. Dozens of people have posted on a Staten Island Facebook page about getting similar letters, and many thought it was a scam.

“If I received one of those letters, I would have definitely thought it was a scam – especially in this day and age,” said Mike Reilly, the moderator of the page. “There’s just so many of them going on.”

Reilly pointed out that an E-ZPass scam made the news just this week. Officials were looking for emails trying to trick people into downloading a virus.

Reilly is a retired police officer, and he did some detective work.

“It’s not really a scam,” he said.

Indeed, the demand for payment from collection agency “AllianceOne” of Washington state is legitimate.

The Port Authority hired AllianceOne earlier this year to try to collect millions of dollars from thousands of people.

The letters do not specify when the toll violations took place, which may add to the confusion and doubt.

But a Port Authority official told CBS2’s Aiello that any letter with the phone number (866) 897-5349 is a legitimate attempt to collect. Doubtful drivers should call for more information.

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