I WAS sitting at home minding my own business recently when my laptop ‘pinged’ to let me know I had a new email in my inbox.

I ignored it for a while but when I did get round to opening it up, mild panic set in.

The email was from the TV licensing people and apparently there had been an issue with my direct debit and I needed to click through to sort out the problem.

Yes, it was a scam email but it was a very good one.

Now I like to think I’m fairly switched on when it comes to scam emails and phone calls. I have lost count of the number of fake emails from banks I don’t bank with, emails telling me I’ve been selected for some kind of reward from shops I don’t shop with and fake HMRC emails telling me either I owe a load of money and the police will be round to arrest me the next day or conversely I am owed a massive rebate and just need to give them all my personal details including my mother’s maiden name and the name of my first pet to get my hands on the cash.

But this TV Licensing one had me convinced momentarily. It almost fooled me. I very nearly clicked on the link.

But for some reason I just held back at the last second.

Something about it wasn’t quite right. Maybe it was because it said ‘Dear Customer’ instead of using my name or maybe it was because the author of the email couldn’t quite make his mind up whether to spell the word licence or license.

Instead, I went on to the TV Licensing website and checked my account. Happily, everything was hunky dory and up to date but it was a close call.

With this in mind, my sympathies go out to the authors of a letter that appeared on the Guardian’s website recently who were scammed by a fake website.

The letter writer’s wife received a fine for non payment of toll fees after using the Mersey Gateway Bridge.

The letter goes on to say she insisted she had paid the fee promptly but when they investigated, realised she had paid the fee to a bogus, copycat website, that imitated the genuine site.

She even received an official looking ‘purchase confirmation email’ from a plausible email address and the charge on her card was against a plausible company name.

But here’s where the real problem lies. This fake site was even listed higher on the Google results search than the official site.

Now regular readers of this column will know I have several issues with the concept of having to pay a toll to cross the Mersey Gateway Bridge.

In the first instance, we never had to pay to cross the ‘old’ bridge and I don’t see how you can suddenly go from a free crossing to a paid for crossing.

My second gripe is we were promised by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer that people who live in Warrington and Cheshire West and Chester would have free access to the crossings in the same way people who live in Halton do.

That promise was never kept.

And having now used the Mersey Gateway (just the once I hasten to add) I believe the signage warning people of the charges and the absence of anything physical to remind people they are crossing a tolled bridge means it just doesn’t register that you have to go online to settle your bill.

For what it’s worth, I almost forgot to pay.

We are where we are with the Mersey Gateway but this scam takes it to a whole new level. If the toll operators Merseyflow are aware of the scam websites, and apparently have been for a number of years, surely it is incumbent on the company to do something about it.

I would love to hear what Merseyflow has to say about it.