Fraudsters are targeting builders with a new DVLA scam. Dan Powell of Honest John Vans explains the dangers.
Van drivers are being targeted by a new scam that’s sweeping the internet. The fraud itself is simple – fake DVLA websites – but the damage is proving immeasurable with victims having their bank accounts emptied and – in worst cases scenarios – having their identities stolen for criminal activity.
How does it work?
Van drivers are required to renew their photocard driving licence every 10 years – it’s the law. It doesn’t cost much – around £20 – and can be done at your local Post Office. However, for those too busy, the renewal can also be done online and it’s here the scammers are striking with fake websites.
The website www.dvla-driving-licence.co.uk was one such fraud site, though it has since been seized by the Government. However, that won’t stop the same group (or others) setting up more fake websites that are designed to take your money and give you absolutely nothing in return.
How does it work?
Almost all of the fake websites look official, with DVLA logos and colours that are almost identical to the real thing. However, unlike the official website, the scammers will direct you to an on-screen form that will ask for all manner of personal details. For example, the website will ask for your passport number, telephone number, address and national insurance number. A card payment will also be requested, but the scammer will then email you to say the payment has been rejected. They will then ask for your bank account number and sort code so that it can be processed – this is where things get expensive.
The official websites for renewing your driving licence – www.postoffice.co.uk and www.gov.uk.
What are the consequences for the victim?
At best you’ll lose £100 and have to re-apply through the proper channels to renew your photocard licence. However, the worst case scenario could result in identity theft, along with having your bank account emptied. This scam also applies to those looking to renew their vehicle tax online, and is often linked to groups running similar scams involving non-motoring matters – visa applications and such like.
How can I avoid it?
If you suspect the DVLA website you’re using is fake then pick up the phone and call the customer support number that’s displayed on the website. A legitimate operation will always be contactable by phone. The fake ones will display a telephone number, but they’ll either refuse to answer or place you in an endless queuing system.
Be wary of any website that asks for very detailed or unnecessary information, such as the length of time you’ve lived at your house, or your mother’s maiden name. The DVLA will never ask for this data. Nor will they email you to ask for your bank account details or PIN number.
If you must renew online, do so through proper channels: DVLA or the Post Office. Alternatively, renew your licence by physically going to a Post Office. Your picture will be taken, your forms processed and your payment taken safely.