One council has issued a warning about a new email scam on the go, which tells drivers that they have paid for a parking ticket, and that a list of their recent transactions is attached in a separate document. If they open the attachment, their computer is infected with a virus.
So how can you spot this fraud, and what can you do?
The scamWestminster Council has posted a warning on is website saying: "Please be advised we are aware of a spam email that appears to have been issued by Pay by Phone with a parking receipt for a parking session for a one hour on 5th November 2011 in Westminster for £33.30."
The email claims to come from the company PaybyPhone - which runs cashless meters in the borough, and involves people calling, entering their details into the system over the phone, and paying by credit card.
The emails aren't specifically targeting people who have parked in Westminster - and most of the people who get the email are unlikely even to have a PaybyPhone account. The criminals are simply working on the basis that if they hit enough people, some of them will panic that their account is being used by someone else, and they'll open the attachment
What can you do?A spokesman for Keepsafeonthenet.co.uk says you should avoid opening the email or the attachment. He had the email himself, and says: "This email came with an attachment. My anti-virus program removed it because it was infected with malware. Do not open the attachment. You haven't parked in "St Alderney" (wherever that is) and neither have I. If you accidentally open the attachment and think you might have infected your computer, download and scan it" with anti virus software.
PaybyPhone is investigating the scam, and in the interim, the council's advice is: "to delete the email and run your anti-virus software. We have not taken a payment. However if you have concerns please contact your bank or card provider."