Tuesday, 02 February 2016 13:40

AFP warns of ‘traffic infringement’ notice email scam

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AFP warns of ‘traffic infringement’ notice email scam Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net/images

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has warned of scam ‘traffic infringement notices’ being delivered to people by email.

The AFP originally issued a tweet on 19 January advising recipients of the message that ‘we’d never send traffic infringement notices by email,’ and advising not to pay any money or click any links.

Today, the AFP said the scammers appear to be sending another wave of the previously seen scam emails to people in Australia and has advised that if you receive one of these emails to report it to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) and delete it from your system without clicking on any links or opening any attachments.

AFP says the scam email incorporates the AFP logo and has few if any of the grammatical or typographical errors that typically characterise scam emails.

According to the AFP, the message states the recipient has been issued with a traffic infringement and incorporates fake details such as reason, infringement number, date of issue, amount due and due date.

And, the fake email then features the line: “To see more information, please view your infringement notice”, and includes a link to a spurious notice.

The AFP points to the Australian Government's online safety and security website, Stay Smart Online, which has advised users not to click on the link as it is likely to infect your computer with malicious software that may be used to capture your financial information, steal your identity or encrypt your files as part of a ransomware attack.

The email also features a second link that Stay Smart Online says you should not click on under any circumstances, as the link is also likely to install malicious software that can then access your computer and personal information.

Stay Smart advises that if your computer has been infected by ransomware, you should restore your files from backup and update your systems. To do this, you need to be maintaining regular backups of important files - Stay Smart has information about how to do this and recommends you seek technical advice if you are unsure about the next steps.

“We recommend against paying any ransom demanded to decrypt your files. There is also no guarantee the attackers will provide a working decryption tool, and you are not protected against future attacks,” Stay Smart warns.

“You should also change all of the passwords and usernames on your computer. Stay Smart Online has advice on choosing strong passwords and we recommend the use of a password manager to help you choose and use very strong passwords.

“The best cure is prevention, and we recommend that you keep your antivirus programs and computer systems updated at all times, and to be cautious of viewing attachments in emails from unknown sources and visiting websites of dubious origin.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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