It’s often said that there are only four different scams in the world, and all scams are a variation on those.
By far the most common, particularly in our electronic age, is for the scammer to impersonate an authority figure – bank, HMRC, police – and convince an individual to hand them money.
The BBC, last week, claimed (here) that a financial scam is successfully committed – in the UK – every fifteen seconds. That’s an increase of 53% over the previous year.
Well, there’s a new scam you need to be aware of, because it purports to represent a different, but still authoritative body – the DVLA.
You might recall that earlier this year the DVLA scrapped the paper counterpart to the driving licence; the scammers email or send text messages to drivers informing them that they need to logon to the DVLA website and pay a fee to verify their driving licence.
The link, of course, takes the driver to a fake site that looks very similar to the genuine DVLA site to make the ‘verification’ payment.
There are then two phases to the scam, firstly the ‘verification’ payment is taken and the scammers have taken the driver’s money; secondly and more importantly they now have the driver’s payment details and are free to either empty the bank account or sell the details on to other criminals.
There’s a similar scam going round that preys on drivers who are aged seventy or over – when driving licences need to be renewed. The fake website, inevitably, charges for a service that DVLA provide for free.
Some victims of this fraud have even been asked to set up direct debits for ongoing payments.
Needless to say, the DVLA has confirmed that it will never approach a driver by telephone, email or text, and advises drivers to delete,without opening them, any emails that purport to come from them.
If you are approached, you can also report the approach to ActionFraud, the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre.
Be careful out there.