/ 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?

Member
Caroline Carter says:
1 June 2016

I just wanted to inform you of a very upsetting incident involving my elderly mother this week. She was contacted by the DVLA last week to renew her driving licence and decided to try to renew online herself. (Generally my husband or myself will help her with such matters).

She made a slight error in typing the web address in her browser bar and rather than going directly to the page was taken to a Bing search results page. She selected the top option, believing it to be the DVLA, and unfortunately ended up on the ukdriving.help website. She followed their instructions to renew her licence at a cost of £59.99. It was only when we visited later in the day that her error became apparent.

She contacted ukdriving.help immediately, who claimed it was an administration fee and told her that she should have read the terms and conditions.

On our advice she also reported this to her credit card company, John Lewis. They have viewed the transaction as fraudulent and refunded the payment.

I believe this website is targeting elderly web users, knowing full well that many do not understand they are not part of the DVLA.

As a Which subscriber I would like you to publicise this in order to protect other elderly internet users, as I am sure not all companies will be as generous as John Lewis.

I also believe that search engines such as Bing and Google are complicit in this Internet fraud as they are happy to place advertisements above actual government websites and this too should be prohibited.

Member

Caroline – very sorry to hear of the trouble your elderly mother had and I am with you 100 % in your comment on Bing/Google being complicit in your mother,s problem . Bing/Yahoo/ Google earn money from directing you to third party websites their trick is to make the top website on the webpage the one that pays them . This isnt new but is a rip-off situation which millions of Internet user worldwide complain about, to me its disgusting blatant commercial cynicism but their excuse is-well you dont have to click on it —we only provide a variety of answers BUT their digital programming for their search engines are constructed that way -money first, customer welfare —zero.

Member
Bridget Clyde says:
17 July 2016

I was caught last night on this. Same thing, entered the url as per the dvla website but it defaulted yo Google and I clicked on the top one. Wrong. So quick to do but was just querying why a .90p charge when Nat West fraud dept sent a text. Luckily cancelled in time the charge was £49. However I gave them my passport number as proof of identity so am wondering if this should be cancelled along with the card?

Member

Bridget , in this country (UK) your passport number changes when you lose it, it is out of date , or it is stolen . After going through many websites on security the general consensus is– there goes your privacy . The days of limited hacking is now over just a bit of data and all your details can be obtained , I would change it .

Member

Thanks Duncan. That was my thought also.

Member
Angela Davies says:
31 July 2016

My husband needed to renew his driving licence. He would normally renew by post but left himself only 3 days to renew before the old one expired. He thought he was on the official website but was on “ukdrivinghelp.co.uk” instead. He filled in the detail and paid the £59.99 stated. Two days later we had the official form returned from the above with the details he had given online. He then completed the form and sent it to the DVLA. He then found that over 70s are not charged anything for their licence!
It seems illegal that this website appears at the top of any search for help – we didn’t know that such websites exist and it is too close in definition to the official “GOV” website anyway. Why can’t this be made clear and why can these types of businesses exist within the law??

Member

Angela , sorry to hear of this outright SCAM against older people . I am trying to get info on that URL (webpage address ) but two of my browsers refuse to show it and a third actually blocked it which doesnt sound good . Got it now — Well it says at the top its a non-official checking service with a £60 charge , not only that it is a totally non-encrypted website so all your details are now in third parties hands as well as any scammers/hackers that latch onto your computer . Aha ! Firefox doesnt show the detailed contract conditions on the webpage but a higher security browser shows a webpage with more details of what you get yourself into . But what firefox does say -in red = Warning this website is unsecure and liable to be open to passwords etc being obtained from it.

Member

More than six months ago DT suggested that Which? set up a hyperlink list of genuine and verified websites for driving licence renewals, although I’m fairly sure other sites could be included. Some sites are generally above board and do state openly and clearly that they’re not the official body. However, although I doubt your personal data will be any more secure on the .guv site (!) than elsewhere, it’d be nice to avoid paying for free services.

Member

The official government one is secure verified by DigiCert Inc + green lock by Firefox + verified on another browser using different security verification. Just for the record Ian not all the Convo,s on Which are secure its a bit piecemeal , I am working out the reason why. But there again Which isnt wanting a lot of personal details like driving license info. I should add those that are not totally secure on Which are semi-secure BUT That fake driving license website is TOTALLY INSECURE do you know what that means ?

Member

Yes. The point I was making that something in the order of 1400 laptops were left by Government officials on trams, trains and buses last year – and a good number weren’t even encrypted.

Member

Angela -what browser are you using and what search engine ? I inputted what someone who didnt know the exact URL would do – driving license renewal website UK and every time I got the real .GOV at the top and several lines down . I think you are being re-directed by either a virus or your search engine is trying to make money out of you by directing to third party websites that pay on a percentage basis of visits to it to the search engine company . well known to Google -Yahoo etc and especially Microsoft’s Bing .

Member

I just avoided getting stung for £48 in a “Renew driving licence at 70” scam. The scam was a website from Google called “Renew-driving-license-at-70”. I started completing the stuff, saw they wanted credit card details, and then realised “License” is a misspelling in UK. I closed my form down without completing it, re-entered the web address “Renew-driving-licence-at-70” and found I was on the official Government website. There was no mention of a fee this time.

A lucky escape! Watch out for “License” – it’ll cost you! And that form calls for driving licence info, NI number, passport number, dob, address – the lot!!

Member
mal says:
6 April 2017

come on people, the whole thing is a scam whether its a government website or not. charging to update the photo when the photo still looks the same. scam uk

Member
Andrew GILG says:
12 July 2017

I have just been scammed by “UKdrivinghelp” which looked like the DLVA and then conned me into paying £69.99 for over 70s renewal when it is free. I have e-mailed DVLA to try and get them to take this website down, have contected my credit card company who will d their best to get my money back. But please WHICH alert BING and Google etc to remove this website from their search engines and get DVLA to warn as well.

Member

I’m sorry to hear this Andrew. Keep up the pressure on your credit card company to get your money back. In the meantime you can report any misleading adverts you see on search engines here: https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2014/03/02/report-a-misleading-website-to-search-engines/