Drivers are being warned to stay vigilant when it comes to their personal details after reports of scam emails appearing, which claim to be from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
According to the government’s news story, this recent scam involves members of the public receiving emails which claim to be from the DVLA. These emails then direct people towards a website designed to look similar to the DVLA’s website, on which people are prompted to enter their driving licence number and payment information. One particularly worrying aspect is that the website threatens that you could lose your driving licence if you don’t enter this information to verify your details.
Unfortunately, filling out your information using this scam website will mean that you are supplying your details to fraudsters, who are then able to commit identity fraud. According to Action Fraud’s guidelines, “identity theft is when your personal details are stolen and identity fraud is when those details are used to commit fraud”.
Phishing for information
The practice of sending emails which appear to be from reputable companies in order to obtain personal information from people is called phishing. As well as having the potential to steal often very personal details, these fraudulent emails may also contain attachments or links which may lead to your computer or smartphone being infected by viruses.
Towards the end of last year a similar scam was unearthed, where motorists were receiving emails claiming to be from the DVLA, requesting for people to fill in their driving licence details. ThisisMoney.co.uk reported at the time that there were fears that scammers were trying to exploit confusion during October 2014 after changes which saw paper tax discs being scrapped. On this previous occasion, the emails also included a word document attached which contained a harmful computer virus.
The DVLA have confirmed that they will never send out emails with links to websites asking people to confirm their driving licence number or payment information. Because of this, they are strongly suggesting that anyone who receives one of these emails does not open the link. Instead, you should delete the email as soon as possible.
The DVLA has advised that the surest way to be safe in the knowledge that you’re dealing with official sources is by only using official gov.uk websites. This means that if you need to do anything online related to driving, such as for driving licences or vehicle tax, make sure you only use official government websites so that you deal with the DVLA directly.
The government has reassured the public that it will continue to investigate reports of organisations which may be actively misleading users about their services or acting illegally, taking swift action when necessary.
BT Motoring News recommend that if you receive a suspicious email which you feel could be a scam then you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and internet crime. They advise that by people reporting cyber crime it helps to build “an intelligence picture”, which police or anti-fraud organisations can use to better combat fraud in the future.