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Scam emails pretending to be from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) claims road users have an “unpaid ticket” and could be fined or prosecuted. The message says that drivers who do not respond will be hit with increased charges or have a debt registered in a County Court.
The scam message claims drivers have just 14 days to pay the charge to receive a “discounted” charge in an attempt to hurry motorists into handing over details.
GOV.UK’s official logo is included at the top while the message also comes with a penalty charge number in a bid to trick motorists into paying.
A “click here to pay” button is also included while drivers are told that the email is the “quickest and easiest way” to pay their fake penalty.
The message contains some tell-tale signs that it is fake with a range of typos and punctuation errors littered across the email.
The subject header is spelt incorrectly, stating that the message is dealing with a “penalty charge notice”.
Closer inspection of the sender’s email revealed the message was not sent from a genuine GOV.UK account.
Identified by consumer wartchdog, Which? the message reads: “For the following: the use of a vehicle on a road in the charging area which a charging scheme applies without payment of the appropriate charge, at the date and location started below.
“If you do not respond before the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the date of service of this notice a charge certificate may be issued which would increase the penalty charge to £100.
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“Failure to then pay the increased penalty charge may result in the outstanding balance being registered as a debt in the County Court.” (sic)
Just last month, HMCTS issued a warning to road users after they are aware of a number of email phishing scams.
They confirmed that the HMCTS does not issue Penalty Charge Notices to drivers under any circumstances.
They added: “Fraudsters will copy the HMCTS logo and attempt to make the notice look genuine.
“Any genuine email from HMCTS will be sent from an @justice.gov.uk email address. If in doubt, hover over the email address to see the true identity.
“If you receive an email on a phone, you can check the address by clicking on ‘display name’.”
HMCTS added that any drivers who receive an email should not reply to the message and not follow the link to pay.
Drivers should then contact Action Fraud or can be reported to the National Cyber Security Centre.
Anyone who believes they may have given away any personal bank details to criminals should contact their bank immediately.
Jake Moore, a cybersecurity specialist at security experts ESET warned drivers to avoid being caught out by scammers in a “moment of panic”.
He said: “It is important to take a few seconds to look into the legitimacy of any email, especially if it urgently demands a payment of any kind.
“All too often we are caught up in a moment of panic and can easily click on genuine-looking links, firing off personal and financial information.
“Cybercriminals are persistently sending out campaigns like this – casting the net far and wide in the hopes that someone will fall victim before realising their fate.”
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