DVLA scams are rife: how to spot them and avoid them

Thousands of motorists are targeted each year by fake emails and text messages that promise vehicle tax refunds or other non-existent services...

DVLA fake car tax refund scam - everything you need to know

The scourge of fake Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) messages shows no sign of abating, with 3157 reports of fraudulent emails and texts between December 2020 and May 2021. That's 12% more than the same period in the previous year. 

The figures follow a record surge in complaints about scam messages in 2020. In just three months, from July to September, the DVLA received a record 3807 complaints, compared with 603 in the same period in 2019 – a 531% increase. 

The DVLA has issued pictures of some of the tricks being used to con motorists out of money. They include links to fictional services and fake messages about tax refunds, with people targeted by email, text and on social media.

Vehicle scams

Common DVLA text message scams to watch out for 

Although the DVLA doesn’t send out text messages that ask people to confirm personal details or bank account information, you may get messages with DVLA in the name and links asking for payment details or advising you about a refund. The following are common scam text messages: 

DVLA final request text scam

This scam will usually include the words ‘ACTION REQUIRED’ or ‘FINAL REQUEST’ along with a link.

DVLA vehicle tax refund scam

This text message says you are owed a refund of vehicle tax. It usually includes the amount you're supposedly owed and a link for claiming the money.

DVLA trying to contact you text scam

This scam text says the DVLA has been trying to contact you and you need to contact them via the link provided.

Common DVLA email scams to watch out for

The DVLA doesn’t send emails with links, so if you get one from someone pretending to be from the government agency, you should report it to the police’s Action Fraud website then delete it immediately. Here are some of the more common DVLA email scams:

DVLA failed payment email scam

This scam will often have a subject line stating that your latest vehicle tax has failed, and it may also contain an ID number.

The email is likely to say that your latest car tax payment has failed because your billing details have changed or expired.

There will be a link where you can update your details, and it might also threaten you with a fine of up to £1000 if you don’t pay what you owe within five working days.

DVLA not up to date with vehicle tax email scam

This email is likely to have a headline stating that you are not up to date with your vehicle tax, along with a reference number.

The body of the email will contain a link where you can pay the outstanding amount and a threat that you’ll be fined if you don’t pay within a set time.

What to do if you’ve clicked on a link 

If you click on a link in an email or text message before realising it’s a fake, don’t enter any personal or card details.

If you have entered any information into the link window, contact your bank or card provider immediately as they may be able to cancel the payment. They will also help you make your bank account or credit card secure again.

You should also report any scam texts or emails you get to the police via their Action Fraud website.

Other types of DVLA fraud

The DVLA also warns that driver and vehicle documents are for sale on the internet, and advises anyone with any concerns about calls, messages or suspicious activity online to immediately report these to Action Fraud.

DVLA chief security officer David Pope said: "Some of these websites and messages are designed to trick people into believing they can access services that simply don’t exist, such as ones that will remove penalty points from driving licences."

He added: "All of 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.

"The only trusted source of DVLA information is www.gov.uk. And remember it’s important to never share images on social media that contain personal information, such as your driving licence and vehicle documents."

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