If you receive an e-mail claiming that you have been caught in an instance of “negligent driving”, don’t click on any links. The e-mails are being received by people all across the country; but they are a scam, says Evan Kelly, senior communications advisor for the Better Business Bureau serving Mainland BC.
“They look like an urgent call to action, and contain a link that they want you to click, saying they have photo proof of the infraction,” says Kelly. He adds that he has not followed the link, so has no idea where it goes. The scammers could be asking for credit card information, or it could be that by clicking on the link malware or ransomware will be installed on your computer. These “lock” the computer, then give a phone number where computer owners can, after paying a fee of up to several hundred dollars, get their computer “unlocked”.
Kelly says that ICBC has received several complaints about the e-mails, which contain a few tip-offs that they are not legitimate.
“They contain bad spelling and bad grammar, which is not unusual. Neither ICBC nor the RCMP send out e-mails asking for payment for traffic violations. And the e-mails claim the charge is ‘negligent driving’, but there is no B.C. law on the books about ‘negligent driving’. The closest thing we have to that would be ‘driving without due care and attention’.”
The traffic ticket e-mails are a type of scam called “phishing”. Anyone who receives an e-mail that looks as if it is part of a phishing scam should not click on any links or attachments; should be wary of urgent instructions, such as “click on the link or your account will be closed”; and should delete the e-mail from their inbox (and empty the trash or recycling bin as well). If you are not certain whether the e-mail is legitimate, contact the company directly.
Kelly also warns about fake electronic cards, or e-cards, which are increasingly popular, particularly during the holiday season. “These should be addressed to you personally, not just a generic ‘my favourite nephew’,” he says.
He advises people not to click on the link to open an e-card unless they can confirm who the sender is. “Sometimes it’s best to check with the sender before you open it. Don’t just open an e-card assuming you know who it’s from. And you can always just delete it; the sender will never know.”