The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has warned motorists of a large increase in online scams claiming to provide genuine driving licences or vehicle documentation for a fixed fee.
Whether it is the provision of a full UK driving permit or tax or insurance documents, officials are urging the public not to fall for the schemes, and that documents obtained in such a manner will not be the genuine article.
A recent BBC investigation has uncovered a group of fraudsters who have been using social media routes such as Instagram and WhatsApp to pose as DVLA officials and offering a full driving licence service at a cost of £600.
The con artists are offering illegal documentation and suggesting that anyone taking up the scheme will not even need to visit a driving test centre or take a test in order to receive their valid UK licence!
As part of the service, the fraudsters claim that they will provide both the photo card and a driving test certificate for the fixed fee, and that the recipient will never need to take a driving test.
Their “proof” is provided in the form of a faked screenshot purporting to be from the DVLA and showing the recipient’s full driving licence.
The scammers ask anyone who contacts them to provide a passport photo, personal information such as their date of birth and home address and use these pieces of data to fake the screenshots and licences.
As the BBC investigation has revealed, the screenshots are not genuine and any licence numbers visible on screen do not exist in the DVLA system.
The official body has indeed confirmed this and pointed out that examples they have seen did not exist, nor can anyone other than the DVLA assign licence numbers or issue genuine documentation.
Not only are the licences themselves fake, attempting to obtain documents such as driving licences or insurance policy documents this way is actually illegal.
The BBC undercover work revealed a network of scammers working nationwide and posing as members of the motor trade or official bodies, in areas including London, Liverpool, Birmingham and parts of North and West Yorkshire. The fraudsters claim they can process a licence request in less than 7 days.
In related worrying news, the DVLA has also confirmed that their contact centre has received a large spike in reports of scams being reported.
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In the final quarter of 2019, more than 1,500 reports were received about vehicle tax scams, a rise of some 20% from the same period in the previous year. These scams took the form of messages on social media, or frauds perpetrated via email or text message.
Again, the DVLA has reiterated that if something appears to be offering tax documents or services at an unlikely fee, then this is almost certainly not genuine and ought to be reported. Many messages concern refunds of vehicle tax and provide dubious links to click on.
Other scams relate to the provision of fake documentation, unfeasible insurance quotes, tax refunds, or more of the same type of vehicle licence fraud as detailed above.
The DVLA urge everyone to refrain from sharing personal information or images of documents online or through social media, particularly those which give away sensitive or personal information such as vehicle licence numbers, driving licence details or personal photographs.
They also reiterate that the gov.uk website is the only online resource that contains the official forms and documents to complete when applying for a licence or vehicle tax.
With a little common sense and vigilance, the public can stay safe when applying for vehicle
documents, and if you do spot fraudulent or suspicious messages or websites, it’s wise to report them to the DVLA as soon as possible.