/ 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
Mark says:
28 April 2021

Has anyone here received a renewed license after being scammed & if so is it legal?

Joe says:
29 April 2021

No i was also just foolish and got scammed this is crazy how they are allowed to carry on scamming people

Joe – We might just as well ask why people wanting to renew or change the details on their driving licence don’t use the official DVLA [GOV.UK] website or do what it says on any letter from the DVLA.

If I do a Google search for “driving licence” on my phone, Google presents two Ads for scam services before the DVLA site.

But if I do the same searching using DuckDuckGo or Brave, then the first relevant hit is the DVLA site.

So it seems that big ecommerce (Google in this case) is setting folk up to fail by feeding them adverts from scam service companies.

At least in this case I assume that the victims do ultimately get the driving licence they need, instead of fake RayBans.

Maybe they get driving glasses. 🙁 Mark did ask if people did receive their licence. It would be useful to find out because it would be easier to take action if customers are not receiving what they ordered.

Anyone who is applying for their first licence may be unaware of the DVLA website and will certainly not have a letter.

I think the placement of the advertisements for application services is wrong and I agree that the search engines are responsible for that. I also think the charges made by these services are far too high for checking each application, transferring the official fee [if any] to the DVLA, and forwarding the application for processing. There’s not much to check in the case of driving-licence renewals unless any of the licence-holder’s details have changed, and for renewals for the over seventies there is no fee to pay, so a charge of £5 maximum would seem to be appropriate to me if people want ‘peace of mind’. There’s not much to go wrong with this sort of application, unlike possibly with a passport application, and the DVLA would soon get back to the applicant if there was a query over their photo or address or date of birth, so these application services are completely unnecessary – but good money-makers for those behind them.

But I don’t think they fall into the category of ‘scam’. A ‘rip-off’, yes. But they don’t cold call you, or batter you into submission to take out an unwanted contract, and I believe they do what they say they will and put the application through to the DVLA.

People enter those websites by their own devising, and every one I have checked has a disclaimer making it clear that it is not linked to the DVLA. The disclaimers could be more prominent or better positioned, but, in the absence of any regulations requiring that, it isn’t going to happen.

One day it might be interesting to investigate the extent to which any real checking takes place. A test application with certain details missing or with incorrect details could be submitted but I don’t feel inclined to pay £79 or whatever on such an experiment. Let’s just get the message across that if you want something from the DVLA then you need to go to the DVLA website via GOV.UK and no other. Official websites have the Crown logo or the Royal coat of arms and have distinctive, and rarely imitated, language and typography.

I agree about the possible misuse of the term ‘scam’, John. I was once officially reprimanded for using the term ‘scam’ in a Conversation about a certain large electrical retailer charging £35 above the advertised price for laptops that had been set up. I found the reprimand useful because it made me think carefully about what I post on these pages. I suspect that in popular use the meaning of the word ‘scam’ now includes rip-offs.

Wavechange – I agree that anyone who is applying for their first licence might be unaware of the DVLA website and will certainly not have a letter. However, I don’t recall any complaints from that direction to this or any other relevant Conversation; I guess new learners will be helped by a parent or friend or do what many others do and go to the post office to pick up an application form and guidance leaflet. An information campaign using social media might be a worthwhile way of connecting with the specific generation that will be making their first application.

The appeal to the spoof service providers of the over-70’s driving licence renewal requirement is that it identifies a more vulnerable age group thus providing a rich database of people who might be ripe for picking on other issues [like home appliance cover, for example], and there is no fee to be transferred to the DVLA creating a financial paper trail.

A recurring theme in a number of Conversations is people’s lack of knowledge in dealing with matters such as scam purchasing, bank transfers, 3rd party providers as here, and other frauds or scams made simpler on the internet.

Life is all about learning how to deal with situations, whether via the internet or not. Some are willing to put the effort into learning. We need to help people be aware of the ways they can be tricked, not just specific examples but the precautions and questioning they need to employ before committing to parting with money and personal details.

Will some people want to learn? Would they bother to watch something on tv that was informative? Or will they just continue to learn the hard way? What should we do to educate them and who should do it? Simply compensating for ignorance or irresponsibility is no answer, and no way to tackle the problem.

Sorry John, scam is so much easier to type than rip-off, especially when I’m posting from my smartphone. In the past, our generous hosts here on W?C have sometimes objected to the use of scam for technically legal rip-offs such as weaselly extended warranties.

I doubt that anyone who who ends up out of pocket will be too bothered about the distinction between a scam and a rip-off.

In legal terms, scams might be illegal (but often under laws that are difficult or impossible to enforce) while rips-off are merely sharp business practices. But I’m sure they are both fundamentally wrong.

When I first worked for Serco, we had a strong services company ethic. We wanted to do things for people that they either would prefer that we did for them or that they would recognise we could do better for them than they could do alone. We also wanted to build up long term customer relationships, so we would never want to make a fast buck by doing over any customer. Our CEO at the time was Chris Hyman, a devout Christian who donates 10% of his income to his local church (see:-https://www.theguardian.com/business/2006/feb/24/columnists.guardiancolumnists ).

Your first licence will be provisional. I searched on applying for such a licence. Two ads before the government one. One made quite clear they were a checking service before submitting the application to the DVLA, that they are in “no way affiliated with the government. You can apply onto the UK Government website or DVLA to benefit from a reduced cost.” They listed the costs, showing their £79 fee. The other made no such declarations.

Why stop at the two adverts when immediately below is the .gov.uk listing headed “Apply for your first provisional driving licence“ ?

x

The COI once made a series of short films that served very well to educate the general public. Their repetitive nature and placement (during popular soaps) seemed to work well, for the most part.

But that highlights a serious point: some people, either though an accident of genetics or upbringing, simply cannot learn. This was brought home to me when I ran a choral group some years ago. In that group there was a lady who was illiterate; she was simply incapable of reading and worked in one of the few organisations that offered limited employment to those with severe learning difficulties.

In order to be in the group she forced herself to learn – by rote – every word of the music we used to perform. Her notional IQ was below 80 and yet there was no harder–working or reliable member of the group. The experience of working with her was truly humbling.

It’s all too easy for us (and I include myself) to assume everyone has the same capability to learn, The simple fact is that very many do not, and the figure is rather higher than we might imagine. Teaching people to avoid being scammed has to start at the earliest levels in school, although parents should lead the way.

I do not assume that everyone has the same ability to learn. My concern is to help those who do have sufficient ability. We do need to help those with the inability but in different ways. I am not clever enough to identify those ways but have suggested for banking that, where limited ability is recognised, limitations are placed on the way the account can be used, for example.

Cognitive ability or intellect is a complex beast. We still do not really understand what intelligence is and, as a society, generally underfund those agencies charged with safeguarding of the less able. I would find it very difficult, for example, to devise a way of identifying those with sufficient capability to operate in all normal situations and yet detect the fraudster. Although something of a pastiche, Sheldon’s character in BBT does illustrate how superior intellect and a general unawareness of how society functions can go hand in hand.

Ian is right about differences in the ability to learn and that is something that deserves to be acknowledged. Furthermore, our ability to learn depends a great deal on the subject and our interests. Motivation is also important and one reason why many people develop strong interests in areas of interest or where they can recognise self-achievement.

In the present discussion, being the victim of a driving licence rip-off or scam, I would hope that there is motivation to avoid losing money in this way. I suspect that being a victim could make some individuals more wary in future but have no figures to support this hypothesis.

It is vital that we find ways of helping members of society avoid financial and other pitfalls. Their expertise may be in other areas.

John – I agree that we have not had complaints from people applying for their first licence. I do not know whether this is not happening or if it is because Which? Conversation does not seem to be used much by young people.

I do not know if a social media campaign would help but I have suggested this approach as a possible way of tackling fraudulent advertising on Facebook, at least as an interim measure until the management deals with the problem.

When we are young we learn from our parents and siblings, as we get older peer learning becomes more important and eventually we are likely to help elderly parents/family/friends cope with life’s challenges.

High intelligence and being consciously unaware (unconscious), add to that a charismatic, magnetic charm, and you have all the hallmarks of a prospective anti-social personality disorder (ASPD).

This is a general term used by doctors that may include someone that sees others as objects they can use for his or her own benefit.

Recent research suggests a psychopaths brain is not like other peoples, which makes it harder for them to identify with someone else’s distress. A sociopath may have a conscience but it is considerably weaker than most, and often attributable to either childhood physical or psychological abuse by one or both parents, and in some cases a sibling. Both lack empathy and compassion.

It’s often a difficult decision for teachers to report behavioural patterns of child abuse victims, as it could involve children being put into care and the break up of the family union. It is also difficult for teachers to educate their pupils about unwanted approaches from manipulative adult predators, without instilling a fear so intense that it can have an effect on their future social interaction and friendships.

It’s also important to remember these people are mentally unstable and not consciously aware of their actions (unconscious).

Top of the list of professions most likely to attract ASPD are:

CEO’s
Lawyers
Media
Salesperson
Surgeon
Journalist
Police Officer
Clergy

Mark says:
29 April 2021

I agree not a scam just my mistake so I will bite the bullet once bitten twice shy we live & learn 👍

Hi Mark – Thanks for coming back. If you start with the gov.uk website this provides links to many official services. It would be great if the rogues could be put out of business.

Mark, thanks for coming back. It is good to hear someone who accepts they have made a mistake and doesn’t expect to be entitled to a bail out. I hope others will live and learn once bitten, and don’t lose too much in the process.

What surprises me is how some people are happy to move large sums of money without seemingly taking appropriate precautions and proper enquiries. Not all, of course. I’ve just moved money from a building society account to the linked bank account; I was sent a code to my (stored) mobile phone number before it went through. That seems pretty secure to me. Am I wrong? Confirmation of Payee works well as far as I can see; prior to that I transferred £1 to a new account to check I’d keyed it correctly and the right person had received it. Anyone could do that.

I wasn’t intending to stir up a semantic argument when trying to discriminate between a scam and a rip-off, and I certainly didn’t target Mark or Derek. ‘Scam’ is common usage for all sorts of exploitative deceit or trickery and it has been used in various senses throughout all the Which? Conversations that refer to the mercenary taking advantage of people by diverting them into some form of impulsive action that they will later regret.

I was imperfectly trying to suggest, however, that using the word ‘scam’ or ‘scammed’ can be a way of psychologically distancing the subject from any responsibility for their misfortune, because that affords some comfort to assuage their sense of personal mismanagement. It is interesting to consider the adage “a fool and his money are easily parted”; that used to be a common way of describing gullibility. Nowadays I don’t think we should call people who fall for scams “fools” because the sophisticated and manipulative conduct of the perpetrators of scams, within a narrow and criminal frame of activity, is not in the least measure socially justifiable; and also because to do so would ascribe a higher level of intelligence to the fraudster than to the victims who in most cases are not deficient in common sense or practical knowledge. To be open to deception is not a behavioural fault and in many ways is an indicator of an amenable disposition [normally considered a virtue].

teresa cooper says:
13 May 2021

I did use the web address on my letter, and felt sure I was on the official DVLA website, I did get my license but was charged £93! I am still in dispute with them and have been offered £30 back!

You can’t tell the difference until you’ve got to the end and find out it’s a broker in Spain.

I received my new license about two weeks after being scammed. I am over 70 and my licence should have been free but the site required £71.60, which I stupidly paid. I was only alerted when at the end of the online transaction I saw that the company was based in Barcelona. This company, simply called Licence Broker, sent my details through to the DVLA immediately, so I could not cancel the transaction. I have “chatted” to DVLA and they say I have to contact the company for a refund but while there is a website, there is no email or phone number. I will have to go through my bank.

Having been scammed by the fake DVLA site based in Barcelona, I received my licence from the DVLA. DVLA does not receive the fee I paid but I should not have had to. They are a brokerage posing as DVLA but they charge the over seventies for renewing licences that don’t (in my case) need renewing.

The site I was on (at the top of the list of DVLA departments) was identical to genuine DVLA sites. There was no disclaimer and I did not know I had been scammed until I saw at the end of the form who I was dealing with and where the company was based.

Many official sites are listed on the government website http://www.gov.uk and starting there should avoid imposters, Maggie.

So was I, after given all my details even passport details, feel so stupid, normally so on the ball, managed to stop £94 recurring payment with bank, but now worried about passport details going around

I realised soon as I paid £94, for renewal, so angry with myself, got straight on to the bank, who told me it was a recurring payment, and they have blocked it, and refund 94 back into our account, numerous emails to this company and I madly gave all the details they wanted down to passport details can’t believe i went along with it, so now concerned where have all my details gone, really Don’t know what to do about them, scary

The site looks identical to the legitimate DVLA website.

Well, wavechange, I didn’t deliberately go for a different website. Why should I hunt around the web when I believed I was on the right page? It was the first to come up, looked identical etc. It has now closed down but Licence Broker exists again with a very different looking website, not specifically aimed at license renewals but other applications. Same address though.

I went through the same process. I was in a hurry to get proof of identity because my licence was out of date, although I had eleven months to renew due to Covid. Had I been in less of a hurry I don’t think I would have been scammed. Had a letter today from DVLA saying try Trading Standards, Section 75 or Bank charge back. The bank already refused me but I will try again. It may not be a scam but it is definitely misleading advertising.

Hi Maggie – I would like to see these copycat websites closed down unless it can be proven that they are offering a genuine benefit to customers rather than deceiving them. My suggestion for accessing official websites via gov.uk is standard advice.

My view is that the domain registrars that assign web addresses to individuals and companies should be checking for possibilities of misuse (e.g. web address similar to a genuine one) and taking down any website reported and confirmed as fraudulent.

In order to make a Section 75 claim the amount must exceed £100 but you could try a chargeback claim against your bank or credit card company. Which? has advice here: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-do-i-use-chargeback-abZ2d4z3nT8q

Cliff Windsor says:
18 June 2021

Hi – I did a renewal application yesterday through one of these sites. I rang DVLA this morning (yes, it took a long time!) to check and the application has been processed. I guess I’ve been lucky – I’ve just been screwed out of £80. What concerns me now is that this unscrupulous bunch, based in Estonia apparently, have a shedload of my personal details, including name, address, passport number and NI number, which they could sell on ….. Any thoughts, anyone?

Robyn says:
24 June 2021

Hi there, I too have been scammed by the same company I believe.

What did you do in the end? Did you receive your driver’s license?

I have cancelled my card and ask the bank to stop any recurring payments. But not sure what to do about my other PI such as NI, passport number and driving license number that they now know.

Any thoughts?

Lesley says:
30 June 2021

I was scammed £94 DVLA didnt even get the £14 I thought I’d paid

Lesley says:
30 June 2021

I did I used the web address on the letter from the Dvla

Lesley says:
30 June 2021

I disagree I used the web site that was on the DVLA letter, it may have shown me links and I clicked it but I did it through what I thought was DVLA

Stu says:
30 June 2021

Hello all. Agree with everyone’s comments – I have just been stung – and I am super careful with this sort of stuff. Was on the DVLA site, couldn’t complete the renewal as didn’t have some details, then have obv clicked the incorrect link when attempting to do it when I had all my stuff, and have not twigged I’d clicked the wrong link. Feel such an idiot.

By the looks of things, most people do get their licence, but it comes gift wrapped with a huge embarrassed red face. Luckily, paid by credit card and noticed one day after transaction went onto my account, card has now been cancelled, but the joys now begin of contacting various financial firms to add extra security layers onto my accounts is a royal pain in the butt.

This sort of thing can happen to any one of us at any time, regardless of how careful we usually are. A simple ‘take eye of ball’ mistake like i’ve just done it all it takes. For interest, this is the site – Based in Estonia.

https://www.vehicleonlineservices.co.uk/privacy-policy

A little passport renewal might also spice things up for someone….

Having recently fallen foul of this myself (and eventually receiving a full refund excl. the 14 pounds they paid the DVLA) I have two questions.

1. Why does the DVLA accept and process these applications?

2. Why do Search Engines display them at the top? I see Google is mentioned here but they have obviously changed their policy as the one I used was at the top of the list. Sadly I assume it comes down to money…..

I also want to point out that I’m normally very careful with these kinds of things but I didn’t receive a reminder from the DVLA and when I found out by pure accident that my license had expired, and that I could get fined 1000 pounds, I just went into full on panic mode!

So lastly I urge everyone to check theirs too! Had I not told my sister my sorry story, she too would have had an out of date licence.

Oh and one last thing…. I now have two driving licences! Can i get into trouble for that?

Any advice would be gratefully received and I hope this saves others from falling for the same thing!

PS. it took precisely 71 emails over the course of 9 days to receive my refund so if you do fall for it, don’t give up!

I too am worried about the fact they have my data, after scrutinizing the T’s and C’s I’m still none the wiser as I found so many things on them that just weren’t true!!

I tried through my bank but the form was more long winded than the 71 emails I exchanged back and forth! Happy to share my emails which eventually led to my refund. Just ask 😀

I applied for my renewal through the DVLA website as soon as I realised my mistake (upon checking my bank account the next day), I received that one the very next day. The one I paid the extra 80 quid for arrived over a week later so I am totally failing to understand what ‘services’ I am/was entitled to whilst they still had said 80 quid!!!

please do

Lexi says:
19 July 2021

Hi
I’d be very interested to see your emails please as I also have fallen victim to this

I actually typed in the web address on my renewal letter but must have got a character wrong and i got directed to this site without realising it. Thought I had gone to the GOV.UK website!

I typed in the GOV.uk address as per my renewal letter but somehow got directed to this site – no idea how i got there and didn’t realise until too late

Same has just happened to me. Did you get your licence in the end? I feel such an idiot it was only when I clicked pay that I realised what I had done!

Is it worth applying for a refund?
Best wishes
Beverley

Not receivedlicence I did cancel same day when realised the Basta??s had duped me, went ape, got a 45 pound refund, these companies shoudl not be allowed, if we scammed to gov out of revenue like vat we would be prosecuted. so drivinglicenceservicesltd your scammers, and plenty more out there, now waiting for Halifax to help me, I managed a 45 pound refund, they really are BASTAR?S

Brian Holland-Jones says:
21 August 2021

Not surprised old people get caught.
If like me during the pandemic the DVLA extended Licence renewals, in my case, from Dec 2020 to Nov 2021.
So I thought I would try to renew it before November. Went on the DVLA gov.uk website filled in the details and applied.
Suddenly a page came up asking for card details. Didn’t realise at the time over 70s renewal was free.
Only when toady I saw an £80 charge to applications online ltd came up on my bank account did I realise it was a scam.
Bank refunded me and now dealing with it but have to wait for new card.

Yes same thing happened to me. Charged £94. I did receive my licence. I thought I was on the .Gov website too. At no point was there anything about being charged £94 – I thought I was paying £14 until my credit card statement arrived.

We went on the gov.dvla for to renew our driving license. I got charged £14 . My husband got charged £94 . When I called the dvla this morning was told a third party came on board . We booked with the same gov page I got mines . Dvla said nothing we can do about it. Our bills came under Application Online LTD internet . Please be careful when on the gov.dvla site

We went on the gov.dvla for to renew our driving license. I got charged £14 . My husband got charged £94 . When I called the dvla this morning was told a third party came on board . We booked with the same gov page I got mines . Dvla said nothing we can do about it. Our bills came under Application Online LTD internet . Please be careful when on the gov.dvla site

The following article on the BBC News website today exposes the failure of Google to control third party [rip-off] advertising on driving licence renewals and similar search results –
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-56886957

Interesting link, John. I wonder why there are not more joined up investigations. Was this an independent BBC investigation or was it done with Which?,for example?

@jon-stricklin-coutinho, Jon, there are a lot of organisations with overlapping work. Do Which? routinely identify those involved in a particular topic Which? are looking at and share resources and information? It would seem a sensible approach to me given the expertise and resources needed to do thorough investigations and to try to be influential.

We are still waiting for Which? to produce and publish any conclusions from its numerous Conversations about this particular form of deceit. At least the BBC tackled Google head-on about their failure to act and also had a dialogue with Martin Lewis [Money Saving Expert].

I am sorry to have to say that I place greater credence on the BBC’s investigatory work than on Which?’s. Obviously, it has a much higher platform from which to announce its results than Which? does, but having started something and called for evidence Which? just seems to walk away and seems reluctant to engage with the source of the problem.

A you say Malcolm, the BBC article shows that they have been exploring the problem in a comprehensive manner whereas there must be at least half a dozen Conversations covering the topic here – and some are quite old now; they all get mixed up and no unifying threads are drawn together to make a case for action.

Which? likes to absorb input from its hundreds of contributors but does not put much out in return. If it’s not careful it will lose any influence that it has and be seen to be generally irrelevant in the field of consumer action. The better staff will progressively leave and go to work for the media organisations which are now recognised as being more effective.

I have just gone to renew my licence as noticed it was put of date and stupidly Googled licence renewal and put all my personal details into the first link which came up.
(I am never this stupid but I. Blaming the serious lack of sleep I’ve had over the past few nights and the sudden panic of realising my licence was out of date)
I realised it wasn’t the dvla when i got to the payment page so didn’t submit any bank details but now they have all my personal details..ie drivers number, passport number, address etc etc and I’m terrified my identity will be stolen.
Any advice? I honestly can’t believe I’ve been this silly!

I’ve been silly, too, but I was in a hurry to provide ID to a company I was about to volunteer with. Add to that the mind numbing medicine amitriptyline that my GP has prescribed for me, and I couldn’t remember whether I had paid for my renewal last time or not and there you have it – I got my licence last week but they got rich pickings from me £71.60. Had I been in less of a hurry I wouldn’t have even tried to renew my licence as I have until December!

Graham Hunt says:
8 May 2021

Got scammed on this one as they use an add to disguise their evil intention .When money is involved then these companies hit the most vulnerable the elderly .They have no moral standards!

grrr, i got done too! a relatively bright intelligent professional that reviews and drafts legal agreements! caught whilst trying to multitask… i hate companies like this! http://www.driversvehiclelicense.co.uk, I assume I can’t benefit from any cooling off period as the service has now been delivered.

You may be able to get your bank to perform a charge back. That’s what I’m hoping for, as the broker has no phone number – only an address in Spain.

Stephen says:
15 May 2021

You mention Google has taken steps to ensure .gov apears top of their searches, what you have omited is they are also getting paid twice, once by the goverment (ie ourselves) and also by the scammers !….Just last week there was an artical that Google had racked up £640K from the goverment (ie ourselves), plus they had made money from the scammers, yet another instance….Plus don’t forget teh taxes Google will be avoiding !…companies like Google SHOULD NOT EXIST !, IMO they are an utter waste of time, we shoudl all start and use BING, far superior and don’t use your personal information to their benifit !
I wonder how many companies have gone out of business due to racking up thousonds of pounds in debit them looking for the holy grail with google…Im sure there will be plenty !

Anyhow, i cam across licencebrokerage.com a company who will change £70+ to renew your driving licence, which can be done for £14 on the DVLA website – BEWARE

Stephen – Bing are no better than Google in the placement of advertisements in superior positions relative to GOV.UK search results.

The internet service providers and search engines are in default of undertakings made to give prime position to official government websites for government services.

Renewing a driving licence at age 70 is free of charge if transacted through the DVLA or the GOV.UK website. By the same route, renewing a photocard licence after ten years costs £14, getting a new licence because the existing one is lost, stolen or damaged costs £20, and changing the address of the licence holder costs £14.

Numerous ‘companies’ provide a processing service to check and forward applications to the DVLA for a fee. All those based in the UK that I have checked do what they advertise and carry a disclaimer dissociating themselves from the DVLA. Offshore agents are not obliged to make any such disclaimer. This is the notice shown on the licencebrokerage website:

IMPORTANT: Please note that this website is not affiliated with the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA), the UK government or any official body. We provide an independent checking service (see details of our offer in our website) which cannot be obtained from the DVLA. If you apply directly to the DVLA without using our service, you will only have to pay the official fee and not our service fee. The fees comprises our service fee of £57.60 and the DVLA official fee if applies. By using this website you agree that you understand this disclaimer. [Note the mistake in the name of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency]

J Hood says:
11 June 2021

So what are the DVLA and the Banks or the Police doing about this???? has anyone reported this?????

is there a fraund number
how do you get your money back

who are these people and were are they

no happy….??

J Hood – I wouldn’t expect the DVLA or the police to do anything about it. For the DVLA it’s really none of their business and for the police, no crime has been committed.

It is legitimate to advertise a service to help people to submit their driving licence or motor tax applications and to charge for providing that service. I have checked many of the websites and they have all contained an appropriate notice dissociating them from the DVLA. If people don’t read the websites and take heed of the information provided then there is not much more that can be done.

So far as I can recall, no one reporting these experiences here has complained that they have not received their licence or that their car is no longer registered. The same problem occurs with the renewal of passports and applications for a Global Health Insurance Card [GHIC] or a new UK European Health Insurance Card [EHIC]. There are spiders in the web.

Just as in many physical market places, especially in some foreign parts, people have to be wary when getting things on the internet. There is no guardian angel to provide protection and comfort if things go wrong.

I would like to see Which? investigate these services to establish:

> whether there are significant benefits over using the official websites

> whether most customers are using them intentionally

That would help establish whether or not action needs to be taken. We have already seen action to ensure that companies make it clear that their websites are not the official ones so that ‘something CAN be done’.

As John says, it appears these sites generally advertise a service for a fee and provide that service. Whether, or not, it is worth the money (and in most instances it is unlikely), is not relevant; if they do not set out to deceive and people still read what they say and choose to use them then it is their responsibility. I would not want this to be another instance of compulsory “compensation” paid by the rest of us.

Perhaps the search engines should be required to place all official government (gov.uk) sites ahead of all others in their listings.

By all means have Which? research this but, with their limited resources, I’d much rather they looked at product safety, online market places and resurrecting Trading Standards, for example.

In the past, some of these websites lacked information to indicate they had no connection with the government website and I have seen ones that used visual branding to help deceive users. Thankfully action has been taken but I can see merit in exploring the questions that I have asked.

I have not suggested compensation though some advice on how customers of the copycat companies could recover money might be useful.

There are constant calls on Which? to take action and as you say the resources are limited. Perhaps we don’t need Which? to investigate the mystery of why a minority of kettles impart a smell or taste to water and simply suggest that customers return them from a refund.

Angela Wilson says:
13 June 2021

I wish I had seen this yesterday. I was on the official Govt website and somehow when it came to payment I was swapped to another site. How this happened I do not know.

They are License Service Support and the first I knew about them was when I had a bill for £80 for their services and £14.00 for the license. What xxxxxx..

amit says:
18 June 2021

drivinglicenceassistance.co.uk
I haave been vitim of this site as well
google search for renwal and popped there website wiht headline of 10 year renewal which was the letter say on my wifes renewal so went ahead and enter all the details for license and passport with mail id and phone numbe paid 90 orignally is only 14th
and mailing them to get my money back but they did have process my license so waiting for it, theya re solicitors firm according to bank and they can not cancel the transaction as well they said
so it is a BIG scakm to legally scam money.

Robyn says:
24 June 2021

What can we do to protect our PI that was given?

I have stopped any recurring payments and cancelled by card, but how do I protect my passport, NI and driving license number?

Should I contact the organisations and advise them of what has happened?

What I really cannot believe is this thread started in 2015 and I got scammed yesterday. This country is a joke. IT NEEDS TO BE STOPPED – How can we rebel against this and get proper action, I suggest seeking compensation from the DVLC for accepting applications from dubious sources, everybody do the same and maybe someone will act.

Regards

Steve Gough

Hi Steve, sorry to hear that you were tricked by one of these sites.

Unfortunately, it is hard to stamp out these sites, because they offer a paid for service and so cannot be prosecuted easily.

The fact that they are charging a small fortune to do something that you could easily do yourself is not sufficient grounds to qualify them as unlawful.

Lesley says:
30 June 2021

It’s awful I did it using the web site shown on DVLA letter came to payment somehow swapped and I thought I’d only paid £14 on my bank statement t I paid £94 I was horrified I work for a charity so dont earn much this broke me.

Same here! I work on screens every day and consider myself to usually be very vigilant for these things but still managed to fall foul. Throughout the process, it all looked legit and the fee for processing was always showing as £14 which I expected. Today, when my card transaction statement has come through it, ‘s showing a £94 transaction to a company that is definitely NOT DVLA.
I’m trying to see if I can get the transaction ceased but I may as well wish it goodbye!

Having recently fallen foul of this myself (and eventually receiving a full refund excl. the 14 pounds they paid the DVLA) I have two questions.

1. Why does the DVLA accept and process these applications?

2. Why do Search Engines display them at the top? I see Google is mentioned here but they have obviously changed their policy as the one I used was at the top of the list. Sadly I assume it comes down to money…..

I also want to point out that I’m normally very careful with these kinds of things but I didn’t receive a reminder from the DVLA and when I found out by pure accident that my license had expired, and that I could get fined 1000 pounds, I just went into full on panic mode!

So lastly I urge everyone to check theirs too! Had I not told my sister my sorry story, she too would have had an out of date licence.

Oh and one last thing…. I now have two driving licences! Can i get into trouble for that?

Any advice would be gratefully received and I hope this saves others from falling for the same thing!

PS. it took precisely 71 emails over the course of 9 days to receive my refund so if you do fall for it, don’t give up!

js says:
5 July 2021

I did the same mistake paying £52 through this website – drivinglicencerenewals.co.uk .

Unfortunately, personal information goes with this…

michael sullivan says:
26 July 2021

The same thing happened to me. Went on gov.uk filled the form in some how l was directed to one of these company’s and l don’t know how l was directed to this company who took £80 from my account my husband told me l should not paid anything it’s free it was his license l was renewing as soon as l rellized what l done l phone the bank to stop payment the person at the bank did this the bank refunded my money pending an investigation l must my bank have been brilliant up to now that company knows quite well over 70s don’t pay to renew a license and in my opinion the DVLA should not rew a license to a 3rd party they should reject the application still waiting for out come. From the bank

[Moderator: we’ve edited this comment to remove a personal email address posted as the commenter’s name. Please refrane from posting personal contact details – even if they’re you’re own – as this is to protect users’ privacy. For more information see the Community guidelines]

Em says:
26 July 2021

If found through a Google search ad, please report these using the “Why this ad? “drop down next to the Google Ad headline URL.

Click on:

Report this ad

Fill in the form, specifying:

“An ad violates other Google Ads policies”

Select:

“Search Ad”

“Other”

Provide additional details:

“Promotions for documents and/or services that facilitate the acquisition, renewal, replacement or lookup of official documents or information that are available directly from a government or government delegated provider.”

If everyone did that, it would help get rid of these parasites.

I entered one of these websites, it was the first thing that came up when looking to change my address on my driving license, I went through the entire process but when it came to payment i noticed the third party notice and thought it odd that I was being asked to pay.
I left the site immediately, however, I’m a little concerned that my details at least have been held in some kind of data capture for potentially other uses…….should I be concerned?

Dan says:
2 August 2021

I got caught out on this one yesterday.
I’ve worked in IT for over 25 years, have never been caught out before (that I can recall anyway!). The website itself isn’t even a DVLA looking clone. That’s not the point of it really.
Like others, I was in a hurry, was concerned my licence had already expired, and so wasn’t approaching it with my normal caution. I just wanted to get it done ASAP. These websites rely on the percentage of people that are not paying full attention, for one reason or another.

I typed the address given in the DVLA letter into the address bar. Without stopping to think “why haven’t I arrived at the DVLA website”, I was taken instead to Google search results. This of course shouldn’t be happening, as you’ve already specified which website you want in the top address bar (using Chrome here, btw). Of course, in my haste I clicked on the top search link and was taken to https://www.driver-helper-online.co.uk/ where I was duly relieved of £94.
Like others, I only realised the next day it was £94 when scanning my bank statement.
Returning to the website today to investigate, I notice they do actually mention this additional £80 fee further down the main webpage at the start, but of course, in your haste you will only be clicking on the desired link at the top of the page and not scrolling down to see that. They know that of course.

I’m currently emailing back and forth with someone there who is only offering me an £18 refund. They state “A refund does not, under any circumstances, constitute recognition of a fault on the part of our company.”
Yes, of course you don’t recognise a fault on your part. But you’re offering a part refund anyway. Eh?

Will try the Chargeback Claim also. 50-50 by the sounds of it.

Thanks Em for the ‘How To’ about reporting their ad to Google. Have just done this, for what it’s worth.

[Moderator: While this is not a scam website, please be aware that the website listed above is a third party service which processes you a fee for a service that is otherwise available for free. Please use your discretion if choosing to visit this site.]

@dan – Thank you. I’ve just reported them again, as they are still lingering, although the other two have gone – for the time being. Sometimes the Google Ad account is set with a limited spend each day. They may reappear. If you are feeling brave, click on the ad and then back out. That way, they get charged for the click.

Here’s my experience…
Admittedly I was in a bit of a hurry and not concentrating particularly well when the scam/rip-off, whatever you wish to call it, caught me out, but in my defence I’d entered the correct DVLA.gov.uk address and right up until entering payment details I believed I was still on that same official site …until £74 popped up under ‘pending transactions’ on my online bank account rather than £14 that I’d expected!!! I immediately contacted my bank (via their chat box online) and explained the situation and they told me to monitor my account over the next few days and so I waited. Magically the pending £74 payment disappeared from my account completely and the bank tracked it and said it had simply been withdrawn, termed a ‘failed transaction’. However, I’m still nervous as I had shared my driving licence, passport and usual personal details (dob, mother’s maiden name etc etc) and will be continuing to monitor my account in case it pops up again?! Anyone know why they would bail out of this transaction? 🤔

Jane — Without knowing every step you took in the process it is impossible to say.

I have tried several times to replicate what people say happens when they put “dvla.gov.uk” in their web browser but I always get the official site. It is possible, perhaps, that some malware has been planted in some people’s devices that redirects to an impostor site, but really, I just don’t know.

I am glad you have lost nothing. It’s best not to do anything important or involving payment on-line when not calm and composed because even simple things require concentration and attention to the details.

Richard says:
17 August 2021

I just went via the gov website and have been directed here: https://motoring.dvla.gov.uk/service/DvoConsumer.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PRN&_nfls=false.

Assuming this is the correct form, my observations are that: it looks quite old fashioned and not particularly official. It also asks for mothers maiden name and length of time at current address with little explanation of why this is needed. So if you put this side by side with the 3rd party websites, I can completely appreciate how people are being fooled.

Richard – I share your concern about confusion between official and unaffiliated DVLA websites. I happen to think the one you have referenced is official but it certainly seems to be an old one.

I went onto the GOV.UK site and then the ‘Driving and transport’ section but could not replicate the path you must have followed to reach the page you have linked. You might like to inform the DVLA of this anomaly so they can remove any obsolete sites or pages from search engine results.