Drivers renewing their car tax disc over the Internet are falling prey to copycat websites that charge spurious additional transaction fees.
With car tax administration increasingly taking place online, a number of websites have sprung up offering the renewal service, but often with charges of as much as £40 being added.
One such website, taxdisc-direct.uk.com, has even been modelled on the official DVLA site, using the same colour scheme, fonts and layout in a bid to dupe unwitting motorists with an expensive administration fee.
"The Office of Fair Trading has ruled that websites which charge additional fees and services are not acting illegally." – DVLA spokesman
The DVLA itself makes no charge for renewal, other than the cost of the tax disc itself.
With owners of fake websites easily able to pay for increased visibility in search engines such as Google, they can be easily mistaken for genuine sites. Other areas that have seen a proliferation in fake websites include driving licence applications, European Health Insurance Cards and the Inland Revenue’s tax returns site.
Amid rising concerns, the DVLA stated that it is working with the Government to raise awareness of the issue.
?Speaking to The Telegraph, 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."
Those looking to conduct tax transactions online can protect themselves by ensuring the website is a main government portal, which ends with ‘gov.uk’, before seeking official services.
Picture: REX/David Cole
April 2, 2014