Motorists are being increasingly targeted by scam artists trying to steal their money or personal information via texts, emails and phone calls.
The Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency says it has seen a 603 per cent jump in fraudulent activity in the last 12 months and warned drivers to be alert to the deceitful tricksters behind the false communication.
It has outlined five steps for how to identify if you’re being singled-out by con artists and what you need to do about it.
Scam alert: The DVLA has shared a selection of fake emails and texts drivers have received from fraudsters over the summer
The DVLA on Monday shared a selection of the examples of emails and texts motorists had received in recent months from fraudsters pretending to be the government agency.
It is attempting to raise awareness of the alerts, having seen a spike in dodgy cases over the summer.
It confirmed it had received 3,807 reports of email scams alone between July and September.
That’s an increase of 531 per cent from the 603 reported in the same three months in 2019.
Reports of fraudulent texts, though, fell from 653 between July and September 2019 to 510 in the same period this year.
However, the figures revealed by the DVLA are only cases of fraudulent activity that is reported to the government agency.
There will be tens of thousands of others who have received the fake alerts – many of whom who have fallen for them – but not told the DVLA about it.
Personal data handed over to those behind the scams can be sold on to other criminals and used for unlawful gain, while motorists who are duped into sending money are unlikely to see the funds returned
Drivers are being told their car tax is overdue and being prompted to update their personal information on fraudulent sites
The DVLA warns motorists not to fill in any of their personal information on bogus websites linked from the fraudulent emails or texts
The scams ask drivers to verify their driving licence details, offer vehicle tax refunds, and highlight a failed vehicle tax payment and ask for bank details.
Personal data handed over to those behind the scams can be sold on to other criminals and used for unlawful gain, while motorists who are duped into sending money are unlikely to see the funds returned.
The DVLA has listed five top tips to spot and report the faked alerts.
It says that in no situation would it ever contact drivers to claim any form of refund, as this is done automatically and does not require an email or message.
DVLA’s five top tips to spot if a text or email is phony
1. Never share driving licence images and vehicle documents online
2. Never share bank details or personal data online
3. Avoid websites offering to connect to DVLA’s contact centre
4. Only use GOV.UK when looking for DVLA contact details
5. Immediately report it to the police via Action Fraud if you think you have been the victim of a scam
This is Money’s best tip is to check the authenticity of the email address or phone number you have received the alert from, keeping a close eye on extended iterations of DVLA or GOV.UK addresses using a selection of numbers and letters.
Consumers should immediately notify the DVLA if they think they’ve received a scam communication.
Earlier this year, This is Money also warned that scammers are targeting unsuspecting drivers with links to services that don’t exist.
The DVLA has been inundated with messages and calls from motorists about fake documents being sold on social media, including driving licences for £600.
And it’s not just drivers who are receiving the bogus emails, texts and calls.
Without access to a legitimate database of car owners, scam artists are blanket bombing people with emails and text.
Among these people is This is Money’s very own Grace Gaudsen – our resident agony aunt and consumer champion who helps readers with problems.
Grace – who writes the regular Grace on the Case column – has had a driving licence for less than five years but has never owned or rented a car in her life.
Despite this, she has received three scam emails and texts in recent months from the fraudsters pretending to be the DVLA informing that her vehicle tax is overdue.
Our very own Grace Gausden has never owned a car. However, she received this email alert that her vehicle tax is overdue
Grace received another email stating that her payment for her vehicle taxation had failed, despite the fact she’s never owned or rented a car
Phil Morgan, Head of Fraud Policy Investigation at DVLA, said the rise in faked alerts demonstrate that ‘scammers are becoming more persistent in their efforts’.
He added: ‘These more recent scams may at first seem legitimate, however they are designed to trick motorists into providing their personal details.
‘We never ask for bank or credit card details via text message or email, so if you receive something like this, it’s a scam.
‘Customers should report suspicious emails to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) immediately. Anyone concerned they may have been a victim of fraud should contact the police via Action Fraud straight away.’
Sarah Lyons, NCSC Deputy Director for Economy and Society, added: ‘It’s important to stay vigilant to suspicious messages as we know that criminals often imitate legitimate organisations like the DVLA to make their scam seem more convincing.
‘Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if you’ve received an untrustworthy email or text message, but our latest guidance gives advice on how to spot the signs of a scam.
‘I’d also urge the public to continue to forward anything they think doesn’t look right to our Suspicious Email Reporting Service, firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can take action to remove online scams.’
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