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The Telegraph.co.uk has today reported to drivers news of an unofficial website that looks very like the real thing, which is charging unsuspecting motorists an additional £40 ‘service fee’ on top of the cost of a tax disc.
It says that Motorists are being duped by a variety of “copycat” websites which demand a fee to renew a tax disc, when the DVLA makes no charge for this service beyond the tax disc itself.
One such website known as taxdisc-direct.uk.com has modelled its design very closely with the original Government website, to make it more likely that users will believe they are in fact using the official renewal site, taxdisc.direct.gov.uk (see image above).
With companies able to advertise very easily on search engines such as Google, it has made it much easier for fraudulent websites to be set up in recent years, and there are additional copycat websites targeting people searching for driving licences, European Health Insurance Cards (Ehics) or tax returns.
Adverts for the copycat sites tend to appear at the top of the page of results when users search for terms such as tax disc or Ehic, causing people to believe that they have found the official website.
The DVLA said the Government was working with Google and other organisations to raise awareness of the problem and ensure that “enforcement action is taken where appropriate”.
A spokesman said: “The Department for Transport is aware of several websites not connected to DVLA or the official government website that are offering services to customers who are applying for tax discs and driving licences. The Office of Fair Trading has ruled that websites which charge additional fees and services are not acting illegally.
“The Government, led by the Cabinet Office, is taking action to tackle rogue websites and is working with organisations such as the Advertising Standards Authority, the National Trading Standards Board, Which? and search engines, including Google, to raise awareness of this issue and to ensure enforcement action is taken where appropriate.”
Consumers can protect themselves from being duped by always opting for the main government online portal, gov.uk as the first port of call for all official services.