/ Money, Motoring

Scam watch: driving licence renewals

Denis was almost fooled into paying a lot more than he needed to renew his driving licence by a copycat website. Does this ring any bells with you?

Denis Kearney told us:

‘If you’re over 70, watch out for copycat websites when renewing your driving licence. A website that often pops up when searching online looks just like the official DVLA website, but it charges you 90p to renew your licence. If you pay, you will also be enrolled into a recurring fortnightly charge of £38 for services.

‘The website asks for personal details to be submitted via an authentic-looking form, but this information doesn’t go to the DVLA. Instead, you’ll be sent the official application form to your home address. Thankfully, upon inspection of the small print, I spotted that these additional charges would be made and cancelled my card before any more money was taken.

‘Even if these sites are technically legal, they deliberately set out to deceive people.’

Our say on copycat sites

You should always go directly to the official ‘gov.uk’ website for government services – such as passport or driving licence renewals – rather than relying on search engines, where the results can display copycat websites.

These often charge an over-the-top fee for a free service, or mislead you into signing up for recurring payments. If you fall for one of these, you should be able to get your money back using Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (if you paid by credit card) or a chargeback claim (debit card).

It’s illegal for a copycat website to parade itself as a government entity. We have called for a crackdown against sites that don’t prominently display that they’re not associated with the government and that you can get a passport or driving licence without additional costs through the official government website.

We have also pressed search engines to stop displaying adverts for copycat websites at the top of search results. Google has taken action to remove copycat sites for paid search results and has worked to ensure that the official gov.uk sites come top. If you see a misleading website, please report them to search engines on gov.uk.

Have you ever come across a copycat website for driving licence renewals?

Useful links:

Read Which? advice on how to spot a copycat website
Renew your driving licence on the official gov.uk DVLA website
Report a misleading website to search engines on gov.uk

Comments
Member

It should be illegal to set up any copycat government website where their intent is to mislead and defraud the public.

Member

“If you’re over 70, watch out for copycat websites when renewing your driving licence.”

Very specific advice. I hope I remember when I reach that age. Given that ” The DVLA will send you a D46P application form 90 days before your 70th birthday. Renewal is free of charge.” one might hope to avoid traps anyway.

However looking at the bigger picture my desire is that Which? becomes a safe haven for subscribers, particularly the elderly, where correct website addresses and links are guaranteed. Search engines are not infallible and given you can pay or engineer your website to the top of the heap actually rather dangerous to the casual user.

Come on Which? make life simpler and safer for subscribers.

Member

Illegal copycat internet sites should be fined heavily and forced to be taken down

Member

And thats the whole problem I have with this new Libertarianism that seem to get the “nod and a wink ” from our government ,Skypilot . Rip -off society taken to the level of “barrow-boys ” selling counterfeit goods while not having to bother with the “Law ” . Yes I have one of those “short term” licenses just did it all officially ,no problem , but tell me why persecute old people like me ? have youn seen the insurance statistics of young people killing themselves or others in fast cars or showing off to friends etc miles beyond any statistics for old people . AS a matter of fact insurance companies recognise this and I am with one who gives large reductions for older drivers with umpteen no claim years. Now why isnt there a Convo on that, too near the Truth ?

Member

Skypilot – As Alfa says above, in the first place “it should be illegal to set up any copycat government website where their intent is to mislead and defraud the public”. I find it difficult to work out which authority is responsible for taking action against internet misrepresentation, whether its Ofcom, or Trading Standards, or the Police, or the Advertising Standards Authority, or the authentic site owner [e.g. DVLA, HMPO, etc], and at the moment there seems to be doubt as to whether any offence has been committed. I think this would be a very important and valuable issue for Which? to focus on over the next year.

Personally I am very disappointed that the government agencies that are the objectives of this form of scam are not making daily checks on impostor sites and taking action themselves against the perpetrators.

Member

Thanks so much for this advice. My wife has just fallen for this fake website today! We put in the Govt address but found it rerouted to the fake website. Only realised when I read this and saw that there should be no charge. Presumably there cannot be any further charges until we sign a form, which of course we will not now do and anyhow we have cancelled the credit card. Although the Govt papers warn of such scams they should do more to close them down.

Member
Clive Bravery says:
21 March 2016

I, by mistake, used the wrong website when renewing my license, I was asked to pay 90pence. I thought that it was typical government inefficiency charge an amount that would hardly cover the cost of collecting the 90 pence. After completing the online form I found that I had signed up to an online document storage vault at the cost of £49. This fee is to be paid every 2 months. I attempted to cancel by phone but the female Indian who answered the phone hardly spoke English, but she was not authorised to cancel and her supervisor who has that authority was not able or willing come to the phone nor anyone else for that matter. I contacted my bank and reported my fears of a scam. My debit card has been cancelled and a new one issued. The £49 has gone from my account. The good news is that I didn’t pay the 90 pence

Member
Keith Thompson says:
27 April 2016

I was caught in the same way but phoned to cancel my subscription before finishing on the site. I paid with a credit card but it looks as though the £49 was not taken. The credit card fraud department saw a £49 charge on the card but said it had not been paid. I hope this is true. The small print on the site said the £49 every two months would start after 3 days. If they have taken it before the 3 days have elapsed it must be fraud. In that case surely the credit card company should be jointly liable?