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The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has warned that cyber criminals and scammers are targeting unsuspecting drivers with various web, email, text and social media scams, after seeing a 20% year-on-year increase in scam reports during the last three months of 2019.
Among some of the more widespread scams are links to DVLA services that don’t exist, and messages about fake vehicle excise duty (VED) refunds, among other things that look “too good to be true”, the agency said.
“These websites and messages are designed to trick people into believing they can access services that simply don’t exist, such as removing penalty points from driving licences,” said DVLA CISO David Pope.
“All our tax refunds are generated automatically after a motorist has told us they have sold, scrapped or transferred their vehicle to someone else so we don’t ask for anyone to get in touch with us to claim their refund.
“We want to protect the public and if something seems too good to be true, then it almost certainly is. The only trusted source of DVLA information is Gov.uk,” said Pope.
“It’s also important to remember never to share images on social media that contain personal information, such as your driving licence and vehicle documents,” he added.
Those behind the scams have likely acquired details of their marks on dark web markets, where UK driver and vehicle documents can be found for sale. People with any concerns that they have been targeted, either by phone or through email, should report concerns to the police via Action Fraud immediately.
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A spokesperson for Action Fraud said that such scams often ticked up in the first couple of months of the year. This is because people are more likely to be under stress as they sort out their finances for the year ahead, and therefore can be more inclined to make mistakes or overlook something suspicious that they might more usually spot.
“Taking a couple of minutes to familiarise yourself with a few simple online safety tips can be significant in protecting yourself from becoming a victim of online fraud,” said an Action Fraud spokesperson.
“You should always be cautious when sharing personal information online and avoid being scammed by only using Gov.uk for government services online, such as the DVLA. If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please report it to us,” they said.
The annual cost of fraud to the UK currently sits at well over £190bn, and on a wider scale, the problem is rapidly increasing, particularly using fake or malicious mobile apps, or by exploiting popular interest in global events, such as the coronavirus outbreak, to conduct fraud campaigns against both businesses and consumers.