Beware strange texts and emails claiming to be from the DVLA
You know when you get one of those â€˜officialâ€™ text messages that just feels a bit, well, weird?
Thereâ€™s one going around just now that supposedly comes from the DVLA in Swansea. It tells you that if you follow the link to the DVLA website youâ€™ll get a car tax refund that is apparently due to you. All you have to do is tap in your bank details.
Most of us would come to a screeching halt at that point, but this particular â€˜phishingâ€™ scam â€“ for that is what it is â€“ is quite convincing. Plus it arrives just after youâ€™ve been involved with some sort of change in your vehicular status, so it seems â€˜realâ€™. I know this to be true as I received one of these texts myself a little while ago, a few days after our family car was written off in an accident.
The first question that may arise in your head is just how secure the comms channels are these days (answer, not very). Moving on from there, youâ€™ll be needing to know how to recognise and avoid this scam.
The text message to watch out for may read â€œFinal request: DVLA Swansea have been trying to contact you, click below for more informationâ€. My text didnâ€™t bother to include that preliminary stage, however: it just told me that I was owed a tax refund and gave me a link to click on. That link takes you to an insecure site thatâ€™s been set up to look like the real DVLA site, with a genuine-looking logo.
Any sort of unexpected text or email promising refunds or free money of any kind should be looked at with extreme prejudice and deleted. The real DVLA has told customers that the only official DVLA website URL (web address) ends in â€˜gov.ukâ€™ and not â€˜govukâ€™, which has been seen in scamming emails. Theyâ€™ve also reminded us that they â€œdonâ€™t send emails or text messages that ask you to confirm your personal details or payment informationâ€ and that â€œif you get anything like this, donâ€™t open any links and delete the email or text immediatelyâ€. Nor does the DVLA call people up asking for personal details or payment information. If you get such a call, end it straightaway.
There are some third-party websites who include â€˜DVLAâ€™ in their web name and who can sometimes crop up above the properly official sites in browser search results. They carry out driving licence applications and car tax renewals and describe themselves as â€œofficialâ€. These outfits charge the unwary for documents or services that you could get for less â€“ or nothing at all â€“ on the â€˜properâ€™ site.