A cross-party committee of MPs has spoken out to say that the government need to do more to stop members of the public from being duped by copycat websites in the driving sector. These websites typically charge money for driver services that would normally be free.
The transport select committee said efforts were needed across Whitehall to tackle the problem, including getting search engines like Google involved.
Driving organisations such as the AA have spoken up to say they have noticed an increase in complaints regarding impersonator websites charging for services like applying for tests and licences. The AA said it was ‘almost immoral that [such sites] can ply a trade that basically tricks people’.
According to the report, Transport For London (TFL) is also consulting on a proposal that they should not accept payments from copycat websites or any other unauthorised parties.
The issue of copycat websites is only going to get more complicated as more driving services get moved online. A key example of this was when the paperless car tax system came into play earlier this year. The DVLA website struggled to keep up with demand, indicating the challenges the industry faces as more services are moved online.
“The recent problems experienced by motorists when road tax renewal went online demonstrates the importance of responding to change, having clear communication with the public and an effective contingency plan to maintain confidence.”
Said Louise Ellman, Labour chairwoman of the transport select committee. She goes on to explain that while they welcome more information sharing and the expansion of online services, motoring agencies need to continue to meet the needs of customers who can’t access/use online services.
A government spokesperson commented to say that they are taking the issue very seriously,
“As a result, the National Trading Standards Body has closed several sites that they found to be acting fraudulently. The DVLA has published advice on GOV.UK to remind motorists that GOV.UK is the first stop for motoring services and that other websites may charge additional fees.”