Cyber scammers and Russian hackers used to be the only people who sent out emails on faked police letterheads demanding the immediate payment of traffic fines, but that could all be about to change – at least in New South Wales
The Baird government on Tuesday confirmed it wants to start issuing digital-only fines via email and text messages to offenders who specifically opt-in to a new electronic facility, a move the state’s Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Troy Grant says will increase “ease and efficiency for both police and offenders.”
The changes will also have to clear State Parliament first, with no indicative start date yet revealed by the government.
The bold move is certain to attract the attention of other jurisdictions, especially the Australian Federal Police who’ve been trying hard to educate people not to click on cleverly crafted malicious software delivered – falsely – in the name of the law.
The kind of malicious software which, if you click rather than delete, uses ransomware to freeze your computer and then has scammers demanding thousands rather than hundreds of dollars to unlock your machine.
The issue of online scams seems to be markedly less of a problem for NSW Police dealing with offenders, who will soon get the option of receiving an Electronic Infringement Notice (EIN).
The thinking in NSW is that if frontline police are freed-up from writing paper tickets on the roadside and then having to go back to the station to manually punch the data back into a computer they can get on with more valuable police work.
“Officers involved in the trial found they were able to complete the process of issuing an infringement without having to return to the station which meant they spent more time out on the beat,” Mr Grant said.
“This is of even greater benefit to those officers in country areas who currently have to travel long distances in order to return to their station to complete these administrative tasks.”
Cash flow to the Baird government is also being cited as a benefit, with Mr Grant hoping that offenders pay their fines more quickly – because they get them more quickly (though no-one has yet brokered the obvious but unpalatable suggestion that officers should be armed with payment terminals to collect on-the-spot fines in real time).
And while the NSW Government isn’t yet putting a number on it, the new electronic tickets are certain to deliver a handsome cost saving dividend compared to manual processing.
Mr Grant is also insisting that people will get a choice about how they get their fines, but stressed they would definitely not be able to get out of them.
“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,” Mr Grant said.
“Those who cannot or are uncomfortable with receiving an electronic infringement notice will still have the option of receiving a paper-based notice.”
But there is clearly some concern that not everyone will provide their proper details to get the electronic correspondence in an effort to wriggle out of fines.
“Anyone who provides a false email address or mobile number or fails to pay the fine by the due date will be followed up by the Office of State Revenue, Mr Grant warned.
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