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Here's the big problem with the NSW government's plans to email people fines

Photo: Getty Images

The NSW government announced this week that it’s going to let police send out fines by email and text message.

Police minister and deputy premier Troy Grant announced the plan after a successful trial, in which officers gave offenders the option to receive fines electronically, via email or text message.

He said the trial showed there was increased ease and efficiency for both police and offenders.

“The wider use of electronic infringement notices will mean increased flexibility and less paperwork for police and it will mean people receive and pay their fines more quickly,” Grant said

“While there is nothing voluntary about receiving an infringement notice, those fined will have the option to receive the notice electronically or on paper under these reforms. Those who cannot or are uncomfortable with receiving an electronic infringement notice will still have the option of receiving a paper-based notice.”

It sounds like a great use of technology, but Business Insider was reminded of one of the dangers of this sort of system this morning when the emailed the image pictured below.

A scam email sent to Business Insider, purporting to be from the AFP.

It’s a scam – the “Australia Post” email address is “[email protected]”, and the English is so bad not even bureaucrats or coppers would write like that – but at first glance, in an increasingly electronic world where various government departments, including the ATO, email you, whose heart doesn’t skip when something turns up saying you have to appear in court, download the details here.

Email scams involving the AFP date back as far as 2009 according the ACCC’s Scamwatch website, and you can’t help wondering how long before the scammers cotton on to what NSW Police are doing and start faking up fine emails?

The NSW government is putting a couple of failsafes into its system to help protect people.

For starters, to get the fine sent to you electronically, you have to be there with the police when it’s first issued. And even if you’ve been pinged once before and said sure, text it to me, and find yourself on the wrong side of the law again, you’ll need to agree again at that point.

If you run a red light or are caught speeding by a mobile camera, you’ll still receive a fine by mail.

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