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It’s something that most drivers dread, but if you get an email claiming you have a parking penalty charge to pay this week, don’t panic.

Which? has warned that a new fake email is circulating this week, claiming you have an unpaid GOV UK parking penalty charge.

It claims to be from the HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and reads: “Penality Charge Notice. You have an unpaid ticket. Please find more informations by clicking here.”

The email also threatens an increased fare if you don’t pay, and even a county court claim.

While many people receiving the email will be alarmed by the contents, if you take a few minutes to read it thoroughly you’ll notice several key signs that it’s a scam.

The scam email
(Image: Which?)

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Firstly, it contains several spelling and grammar mistakes, including ‘penality’ and ‘informations’.

Meanwhile, if you click on the sender’s name, you’ll see that it does not come from a genuine GOV.UK account.

HMCTS has issued a warning against this type of scam.

It said: “Fraudsters will copy the HMCTS logo and attempt to make the notice look genuine.

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“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’.”

Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET, advised: “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.

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“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.

“The vast majority of phishing emails still use random – and sometimes obvious – fake sender email addresses when clicked on, so it is important to start here.

"However, if you are ever confronted with an urgent email requiring payment, choose another method of verification such as searching for the company in question online and call their helpline rather than communicating via the suspicious email.”