Vehicle tax and DVLA scam emails

Letters from the DVLA

Your vehicle tax payment hasn’t suddenly failed – it’s a scam email designed to capture sensitive information via a fake website. Here’s how to spot fake vehicle tax emails posing as the DVLA and GOV.UK.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has been battling scam messages pretending to be from the department for years. At the end of 2020, it released a number of examples of phishing emails after a 531% increase in reports of email scams. And the fraud attempts continue.

But this type of scam remains persistent due to its simplicity. These straightforward text-based emails are designed to mimic the style of a genuine DVLA communication. And they could end up catching people out before they’ve picked up on the signs. Here’s how to spot a scam.

Free Look After My Bills money-saving email

What do fake DVLA / vehicle tax emails look like?

Whether it’s phishing emails, texts or cold calls, scammers want to tell you just enough to make you panic and take action quickly.

In this first example, the subject line reads ‘Your latest vehicle tax payment has failed’ and provides a fake reference number alongside it.

An example DVLA scam email

The scammers have ensured that their ‘name’ is set to appear as GOV.UK. As such, when this email lands in your inbox, you’ll only see the supposed sender alongside the convincing subject line.

This may be enough to cause some people to feel they must take action quickly. Therefore, they may miss the following key points:

  1. The email address it’s been sent from has nothing to do with GOV.UK or the DVLA.
  2. The message simply refers to the recipient by whatever their email address happens to be – information the scammers clearly already possess which can be automated.
  3. The URL given is not a genuine GOV.UK or DVLA website – it’s been invented by the sender and designed to appear genuine.

This second example follows a similar pattern, but instead places the emphasis on your car ‘no longer’ being taxed, rather than payment failures in the subject line. Again, this is just another variation on wording with the goal being to cause panic.

A DVLA scam email claiming your vehicle is no longer taxed

The scammers are relying on you being in too much of a rush to check the communication thoroughly. Again, it links to a site that has nothing to do with GOV.UK or the DVLA, and has been designed to appear genuine.

Fortunately, in both these cases, the recipient’s spam filter has done its job and sent both of these to the junk folder. But even then, the convincing sender and subject lines could make you look twice when searching through your emails.

I think I’ve fallen for a DVLA scam. What should I do?

Contact your bank immediately to let it know what’s happened if you think you’ve given sensitive information to fraudsters, particularly card or banking details.

Most banks use the Stop Scams UK scheme, so that should be your first port of call. Get in touch by calling the 159 hotline. Otherwise, use your bank’s official fraud hotline.

The bank should work with you to cancel your card and help get your money back.

What should I do with fake DVLA emails?

Fake emails purporting to be from any government department, organisation or brand can be reported to the National Cyber Security Centre on [email protected].

The fake websites they link to can then be investigated and removed to help prevent anyone from falling victim.

How do I know if a DVLA email is genuine?

The DVLA states that it will never send emails that ask you to confirm your personal details or payment information.

You should only use the GOV.UK site when interacting with the DVLA online. Double-check this when you enter in order to be 100% sure you’ve been directed to the official site, which is: https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-tax

You should also be wary of misleading third-party sites that charge extra fees in order to ‘help’ you apply for a driving licence or tax your vehicle. These are completely unnecessary and are charging for services the official GOV.UK site offers for free.

If you’re ever unsure about any communication you’ve received, take a moment to separate yourself from it and contact the DVLA yourself via its official channels. If there are issues with your vehicle tax then you’ll be able to resolve them away from an unsolicited email.