WHEN Brenda Thompson decided to renew her driving licence photo online, little did she know she would fork out £70 for the privilege.
The 67-year-old from Gorse Hill searched for the DVLA website on Google and clicked on the first result, promoted by Google, dvla-driving-licence.co.uk.
She proceeded to fill out her details on the website believing that she had come through to the DVLA.
But she later found out that rather than being charged the £20 fee for the renewal, £50 more had been withdrawn from her account.
“I was absolutely fuming,” she said.
“When they took the money I called DVLA but they said they weren’t affiliated with the site and there was nothing they could do about it. It’s one of these sites that pays Google to be top of the list when you go on and search.
“I thought it was an official site so I didn’t think to check the terms and conditions, why would I.
“It’s only when you go and have a look you realise they charge you for it.
“But as well as paying all that money they now have my personal details.
“The money’s gone and there’s nothing I can do about it but I am concerned there are people out there older than me who might find themselves in the same situation.”
The DVLA has issued a warning to consumers to avoid such websites, reminding people that the GOV.UK web address is the official and only website with the DVLA.
They have received a number of inquiries and concerns about several websites offering a check and send service, and the Cabinet Office’s Government Digital Service will continue to investigate reports of bogus websites which may be acting illegally.
Trading Standards said that Brenda was not the first person to have been duped by similar websites.
Sylvia Rook, Trading Standards Institute's joint lead officer for fair trading said: “In principle, a practice such as this is not illegal. Many businesses provide a service that consumers could carry out themselves relatively easily.
“One of the problems is that these private, paid for, websites often appear above the official websites in Google searches, and have official-sounding web addresses.
“When applying for any Government document the best place to begin your search is at: www.gov.uk . From this website you should either be able to apply directly for the document or service you require or you will be signposted to the official website.”
Trading Standards said there are also a number of other third party websites people should look out for. These include websites for renewing and applying for passports, a provisional or full driving licence, EHIC European Health Cards and fishing (Rod) Licences.