Drivers using the start of a new year to get their motoring admin in order are being warned they are targets for scammers
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has kicked off 2020 with a series of alerts on its social media channels about con artists posing as the government agency to steal personal details and commit fraud.
Government agency scams are when fraudsters send out official looking texts, letters or emails to ask for money or personal information.
Messages about complying with new rules can easily trick those seeking to get their paperwork up-to-date in the New Year. Promised tax rebates are another scam fraudsters use to target drivers after the expense of Christmas.
The correspondence, which can arrive at any time of year, gives the impression it is from a government department and implies they have some form of authority.
A letter, email or text might advise that you must register in order to comply with some kind of legislation – for a fee. Other alternatives include asking you to pay a fine for breaches to the law, or requesting bank details to claim a vehicle tax refund.
The DVLA rarely needs to make car tax rebates, however, and this is likely to be a scam. The agency also never sends emails or text messages that ask you to confirm your personal details or payment information.
If you receive anything like this, the DVLA advises not to open any links and delete the email or text immediately.
Misleading third-party websites passing themselves off as the DVLA are another common scam. These sites may offer to help you apply for a driving licence, tax your car or connect you to the DVLA contact centre.
They will then charge you additional fees for services you can get for free or at a lower cost at the official DVLA website.
To try and pass themselves off as genuine, these sites might include ‘DVLA’ in their web address (URL). Another trick is to design their site to appear as if it’s the genuine DVLA site, for example by using the agency’s old ‘green triangle’ logo, which is no longer in use.
They will often try to get you to call a premium rate number to speak to the DVLA. The official DVLA contact centre can be called on 0300 790 6801, which costs the same as a local call to any UK landline.
Don’t be fooled by these sites - even if they appear at the top of search engine results. Always double check you’re using the GOV.UK website.
Dave Pope, chief Information security officer at DVLA, said: “When looking for contact details or any of DVLA’s digital services, you should only use GOV.UK so you can be sure that you’re dealing directly with DVLA.”
To protect yourself, the DVLA recommends never sharing images on social media that contain personal information, such as your driving licence and vehicle documents.
Pope says: “Posting on social media is a way of life for most drivers, however they may not realise they risk setting themselves up as a prime target for fraudulent activity.
“People can stay ahead of the criminals by being vigilant with their personal information and who they share it with.”
If you are contacted by someone you believe to be a scammer, report them to Action Fraud via its online reporting tool or by phone 0300 123 2040.