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Warning issued to motorists over copycat DVLA websites that charge a premium for services

Warning issued to motorists over copycat DVLA websites that charge a premium for services

Motorists have been warned by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to avoid copycat websites that charge a premium for services you can get for free or at a much lower cost via official Government websites. Here's what to look out for and what to do if you've paid over the odds.

The warning comes as new figures reveal that the motoring body has been contacted more than 1,200 times, since January 2020 by people reporting sites that are not affiliated with it, but are claiming to offer its services. 

You typically need to contact the DVLA online for services including:

  • Taxing your vehicle (this cost varies depending on a number of factors including whether you're registering the vehicle for the first time and its fuel type). 
  • Replacing a lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed driving licence, which costs £20. 
  • Checking if a vehicle is taxed, which is free. 
  • Updating your records if you’ve sold, transferred or bought a vehicle, which is free.
  • Renew your driving licence, which costs £14 (see our How to renew your driving licence guide for more help on this). 

But when you're searching for these services online, check you're always on the official Gov.uk website - which you can do by looking at the web address. Another obvious red flag that you’re on a copycat site is if you’re being charged for something that’s usually free – such as updating your vehicle log book (V5C) when you’ve changed your address. You should also check you're not being charged over the odds. 

'Look out for any red flags that you might be on a copycat site'

Guy Anker, deputy editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "These copycat sites aren’t illegal, but they dress up like legitimate webpages, and use clever tricks to appear higher on search engines.

"They get you to fill in forms, which requires no more work on your part than if you’d done it yourself via the official sites, and then they overcharge you for ‘administration’ or ‘services’ – which is really just passing it to the relevant body, with no extra work involved. These services are usually free or much cheaper if you do it yourself, which can leave a very sour taste.

"The obvious red flag that you’re on a copycat site is if you’re being charged for something that’s usually free – such as updating your vehicle log book (V5C) when you’ve changed your address.

"Another tell-tale sign is the web address, so if you should be on a government website, carefully inspect it to make sure it says GOV.UK. It’s also worth knowing the true price of a paid-for service – in the past we’ve spotted firms offering ‘checking services’ for driving licence renewals at a cost of £60, more than four times the £14 it costs to do it through GOV.UK.”

If you have paid over the odds for services via a copycat website, report it and ask for a refund

If you have unwittingly paid for services you could have got for free or for less via official sources it's worth complaining to the company to see if it will provide you a refund. It's worth doing this as soon as you can in case it offers a cooling off period to cancel penalty-free. 
 
You can also report the incident to Trading Standards by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06, as well as to Google if you spotted an advert for the copycat site on the search engine - just use its  online reporting tool
 
See our 30+ ways to stop scams guide for further info on what what to look out for, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you're a victim of a scam.

What does the DVLA say?

Julie Lennard, DVLA chief executive, said: "GOV.UK is the only site where customers will find our official services, many of which are free. You may be charged a premium when using other websites offering services that are not connected to DVLA."

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