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How to spot and avoid DVLA scams

How to spot and avoid DVLA scams

We’ve covered TV Licensing scams, Paypal, HMRC and vishing but another con that is very much here to steal your money is the DVLA scam. 

Here, scammers pose as the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and send drivers fake text messages, claiming they’re entitled to a refund which is very much NOT the case.

How to spot a DVLA refund scam

Any email or text saying you are due a refund needs to ring alarm bells. It is rare for a company to contact you out of the blue saying they’re going to give you money, especially over text.

The text will say something along the lines of ‘We have recalculated your vehicle tax, you are owed XXX amount due to overpayment’. It will then tell you to click on the link included to claim your refund.

This is a fake link that is solely there to scam you out of your money.

What to do if you receive a text from the DVLA

The DVLA themselves have advised that they don’t send emails or text messages about vehicle tax refunds, and has said that they would never message you in this way to confirm personal details or payment information.

If you do get an email or text like this, they state: ‘don’t open any links and delete the email or text immediately’.

If you are in doubt then it’s always worth contacting the DVLA direct or via social media, and ask them to confirm whether what you have received is genuine.

What to do if you’ve clicked on the link

If you have already clicked on the link then don’t enter any personal information. The site might look real but scammers are clever at replicating a genuine site.

Again, at this point it’s worth going direct to the DVLA to check what’s going on. If they confirm that the text wasn’t from them and there’s no refund to be had, then just click off the website and delete the text.

If, however you learn it’s fake after you’ve already entered your card details then call your bank right away. Stop any future payments and report the scam to Action Fraud.

Call 0300 123 2040, or use their online cybercrime reporting form.

Signs to look out for

It is becoming increasingly difficult to spot a fake text or website. However, there might be a few things to look out for which might help you determine its authenticity.

  • Links – odd characters or a lot numbers in the URL with multiple dots should raise suspicion. One of the scam texts from the DVLA contained this link – there’s no indication here where this link is taking you, so don’t click it if you’re unsure.
  • Language used – if a text is opening with Dear Sir/ Madam or “valued customer” then hit that delete.
  • Padlock in the address bar – if you’ve clicked on the link in the text then have a look at what’s at the start of the address bar. You should see a padlock with HTTPS. If there is no lock and HTTP instead then there’s a strong chance it’s fake.

How to help prevent being scammed

It may sound obvious but being aware is key. Knowing that not all text messages and emails that you receive are genuine will help you avoid being scammed.

It’s unfortunate that we need to question our texts and emails, and that we can’t just take them at face value, but the sheer volume of scams nowadays means we all need to be cautious.

  • If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Is a company going to just give you free money if you click on a link and input data?
  • Remind yourself that the majority of companies do not contact you by text or email asking you to confirm your details or give over your bank account information. If DVLA want to get in contact with you then they’ll more than likely write to you by post.
  • In our Paypal scam blog we highlighted how hovering over the link in an email you can see the web address it’s going to take you to. This is a good way to find out if it’s a genuine site you’re going to end up on. If the web address looks odd then don’t click.
  • Look online to see if others have reported the same email or text scam. Having a quick look on Twitter or on Google to see if there’s been mentions of the same scam in the news or if it’s been tweeted by others.

Familiarise yourself with the different types of scams out there, so when you next receive a text, email or phone call you know when to question whether it’s real or not.

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