This email purports to be an invoice related to a traffic offence penalty charge notice. According to the email, the sender has paid the fine on your behalf to prevent it from escalating further. Supposedly, payment for the fine will be taken from your account via direct debit in 9 working days.
The message suggests that you open an attached Microsoft Word file to read more information about the fine.
However, the email is not a legitimate traffic fine invoice. Instead, it is an attempt by cybercriminals to trick you into infecting your computer with malware. If you open the attached Word file, you will be prompted to enable macros, ostensibly so that the contents of the document can be correctly displayed. If you do enable macros as requested, or if they are already enabled, the malicious macro that runs may download malware to your computer.
For those that may not be aware, a ‘macro’ in this context is a set of instructions that can act as a single command in order to automatically accomplish a task. Macros can save time by making repetitive tasks easier to carry out. Microsoft Office programs and other types of software allow you to create your own macros as required to aid your workflow.
However, macros can also be used maliciously. In the past, macro virus threats were common. Thankfully, later versions of Microsoft Office disabled macros by default thereby lessening the threat posed by macro viruses. But, online criminals are again using macros to trick people into installing malware. Unless you have a specific need to use macros and are aware of the potential risks, you would be wise to leave macros disabled.
Fake traffic ticket emails are commonly used to distribute malware.
Subject: Invoice for IA65155060
To Whom It May Concern,
Please find attached an invoice relating to Penalty Charge Notice Number IA65155060 along with a copy of the contravention.
In order to prevent this fine from escalating further we have paid this fine on your behalf. Should you have any queries concerning these charges please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Payment for this invoice will be taken by Direct Debit 9 working days from the date of this email.
Please refer to page 2, point 3.6 in your Terms and Conditions for information on Traffic Offences.
Last updated: January 7, 2016
First published: January 7, 2016
By Brett M. Christensen