/ Scams

Scam alert: GOV UK parking penalty charge email

A fake email purporting to be from the HM Courts & Tribunals Service is doing the rounds. It’s another phishing scam out to steal your bank details – here’s what it looks like.

We know from all our previous scam warnings that panic is a key tactic for scammers – they want to rush you into action before you’ve had a chance to process all the information.

Getting a parking ticket will often achieve exactly that, especially when it tells you that the penalty charge will increase if you don’t pay it within a certain time.

And this phishing email takes it further, not just threatening you with an increased fine, but a county court claim, too.


Threats like this can carry weight, which is exactly why it’s essential you take a minute to assess any email you receive before carrying out its instructions.

While at first glance this email may look legit, a closer inspection will reveal it’s not the full ticket – always be on the lookout for spelling mistakes, such as ‘penality’, and sentences that don’t quite add up (‘click here for more informations’).

Guide: how to spot a scam email

Inspection of the sender’s email on your device will also show that it was not sent from a genuine GOV.UK account.

HMCTS warns about email scams

The biggest giveaway, of course, should be the fact that HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) does not issue Penalty Charge Notices.

HMCTS has issued a warning against this type of phishing scam. It states:

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’.

If you’ve received this email, HMCTS recommends reporting it to Action Fraud, which you can do so by forwarding it to report@phishing.gov.uk

Phishing emails can always be reported to the National Cyber Security Centre on report@phishing.gov.uk

If you’re concerned that you may have given your bank details to scammers, contact your bank immediately and let it know what’s happened. You can follow our guide to getting your money back after a scam here.

Have you received this fake email, or any others purporting to be from government departments? Let us know in the comments, and help warn others by sharing our scam alerts with your friends and family.

Lewis Knight says:
4 November 2020

Very interesting. Thanks

They say you should look for grammatical errors in suspected “phishing” e-mails and letters. The problem is that nowadays many genuine items may be misspelt or otherwise grammatically incorrect. The standard of English used by, for example, local authorities, has really declined over the past few years. And a lot of recipients, who’s first language may not be English, would probably not spot such errors anyway.

“whose” !

Gerry says:
4 November 2020

‘And a lot of recipients, whose first language may not be English, would probably not spot such errors anyway.’


Stephen Holmes says:
4 November 2020

Third line down – “who’s” should be whose. More poor grammar !!

George – You might like to remove the word “so” from this sentence in your preamble: “If you’ve received this email, HMCTS recommends reporting it to Action Fraud, which you can do so by forwarding it to report@phishing.gov.uk“.

Margaret Shaw says:
4 November 2020

I received this email which was worrying. I then looked at the date the offence was supposed to take place. I realised i wasnt even driving that day and realised that it was a scam. I do wonder about how these scammers get my email address and know i drive. Its rather worrying.

Stewart temple says:
4 November 2020

I keep getting phone calls saying thay are from sky
Every time I ask them my password
Thay hangup thay are not British at all

Paul Schuller says:
4 November 2020

the real giveaway for me is the contact telephone number with in brackets (temporarily unavailable)
Common !!!!????

Loads of Phishing emails quoting HMRC , BBC licensing, Various banks . But the ones to watch out for are The clever Phishing TEXTs to your phone . Surely the mobile operators can sort those out?

William Barrett says:
4 November 2020

While reading your email I received a phone call saying that they were Amazon and someone had ordered a pair of £111 trainers and that I must press 1 to cancel the order so I hung up

I like the one about decline of spelling by councils etc. How many councils put Covid warning notices asking us to keep 2 meters apart? Is that gas meters or electric meters or water meters?
Pretty poor for any orginisation pretending to be pro

I had that! It nearly cost me £15,000. The bank “saved my bacon”.

Seriously, has ANYONE ever had Action Fraud take ANY action on ANY complaint?

I call them Inaction Fraud, because that is exactly what they are, and I no longer waste my time referring anything to them.

@mars express yes, they do take action when it’s actually possible. However it can take months to track down scammers and build a case. The more reports they receive, the more chance they have of accumulating evidence.
To put in context, there are hundreds and thousands of different scammers/fraudsters targeting U.K. residents. Many are based overseas. Many people, like yourself, do not send their scam suspicions to them, so their current information is compromised.
It’s so easy to criticise others when you are not actually helping yourself.

Doug Milsom says:
4 November 2020

My problem with Action Fraud is that when you enter details of a phishing attempt, they then ask if you have actually lost money. If you say no, then they are no longer interested. Better to report phishing attempts to the appropriate department of the bank, building society, company or government department involved.

Ray Hodgins says:
4 November 2020

Action Fraud are useless, they just file it

@ Doug Milsom – Always say yes! You will be losing money while entering the details because you charge £300 per hour for work you consider to be unnecessary. Or you should be, it happens far too often, e.g. when returning goods to on-line retailers and off-line shops, waiting for late buses, etc. I suspect Action Fraud will owe you at least a fiver per report.

The giveaways for me are (1) the organisation they purport to come from would not have my email address, (2) any charge relating to parking or driving would show the car registration number, and (3) it claims to have been sent to the registered keeper, but does not use my name.

The term “date of service” is open to doubt as well because it will depend on how the document was transmitted or delivered and on when it was dispatched. If the notice itself is not dated it is meaningless.

Andy says:
4 November 2020

Am I missing something here. Surely the biggest giveaway is that for reasons that are obvious, they don’t quote your registration number!

Also: ‘At the date and location STARTED below’??

I would hope that I would not be conned by a parking ticket for a location “United Kingdom”. I would expect something a bit more specific!

That, I think, is the biggest give away that it’s not a genuine penalty notice. Genuine notices will be very specific about where and when the alleged offence took place. No specific details = fake notice.

The document is not pretending to be a penalty charge notice but a notice in respect of recovery of an unpaid penalty, nevertheless it is incomplete and contains none of the identifying references which would always appear on any such notice issued by an authorised enforcement body.

The sad fact is that, despite all this thing’s inadequacies, sufficient people fall for it make the scam worthwhile. One or two a day is enough.

Yes I have had this one two different times and knew it was fake from the start, it gave no details of where the offense took place, the area number for the issuing council starts with YJ no such council, their phone line not available. Few months later gor another one with double the amount on. Mine are forwarded to police investigation department.


All very interesting, thank you.
More should be published to the general public about these scams. Companies and individuals should be named.
Mr grumpy

This is the poorest attempt at phishing I have seen for a long time. Apart from the points that have already been made, a £25 penalty charge is unrealistically low. 🙂

George.Barczi says:
4 November 2020

I have just recently had a phishing mail from Barclays Bank claiming I need to confirm I have set up a direct debit for £xxx.xx per month.
1). I have never had a Barclays account
2). I have never set up any direct debit for any such an amount.
The form for confirming account details had the usual detail requirements name , Bank a/c #, mothers maiden name etc. etc. I promptly deleted the mail !
Last week I had two texts from HMRC re. tax rebate !!

Judith Onnolly says:
4 November 2020

I have received an e-mail from TV licensing stating my Direct Debit was not accepted. 1. This is the first time I have needed to pay for the license in quite a few years. 2. I do not pay by Direct Debit anyway.
The mail look really genuine.

When I get the phone calls I let go through all the chat I may even give false details but right at then I just ask what the weather is like in India at this time of year. So far they all have put the phone down and I never hear from them again. Have a look on you tube and Jim Brownings (not his real name) scam baiting website its great. He can sometimes reverse scam them or wipe their computers it is cleaver stuff. Plus he has managed to get some arrested even though in India.

Written in haste sorry for the mistakes above!!

Excellent – another Jim Browning fan 🙂

PS – Dave, if you register and then login to this site you can edit your posts for up to 30 minutes afterwards.

It’s a very good idea to register, but correct your posts promptly in case the phone rings and you run out of time thanks to a scammer. 🙁

Yes I have had two of these and reported them to Action Fraud

If I received an e-mail message from Action Fraud in response to a report I had made I would probably ignore it and discard it in disbelief.

DAVID C says:
4 November 2020

As for scam phone calls, I like to string them along for as long as possible. Good fun!

Does it actually say “You have 14 days beginning with the datu of service of this notice ……”?

I had a ‘phone call yesterday telling me that there had been suspicious activity on my account, and that £600.00 had been transferred to an overseas account. They didn’t even use my name, or the name of my bank, just ‘The bank.’
Needless to say, I didn’t ‘press 1 to continue’ – Had I been brave enough, I would have ‘pressed 1’ and asked them which account was involved.