Rip-off sites charging ‘vulnerable’ drivers £30 for free car tax service

Rip-off sites charging ‘vulnerable’ drivers £30 for free car tax service
Rip-off sites charging ‘vulnerable’ drivers £30 for free car tax service

Websites which claim to help drivers handle matters such as road tax and licensing have been accused of daylight robbery for charging for free services.

The “unscrupulous” sites are charging between £25 and £30 for a “fast-track” service to declare a vehicle off the road – something that can be done for free via the DVLA’s own website.

Legal requirement

Sites such as get-sorn.co.uk, registeroffroad.co.uk and sornservice.co.uk have been accused of preying on vulnerable drivers who are unsure of how the government system works when taking a car off the road.

Under the law, vehicles must be taxed and insured at all times unless they have a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) and are kept off the public highway.

Thousands of drivers were taken to court last year for failing to make a SORN declaration, often because they were unaware or confused by the rules regarding vehicles that aren’t being used.

The process of making a SORN declaration is simple and free via the DVLA website but other VEDwebsites charge vehicle owners to make the application for them and often use search engine optimisation to appear ahead of the official website in search results.

Making a SORN declaration is free via the DVLA website but some intermediary sites are charging up to £30. (Picture: Shutterstock)

Preying on the naive

Philip Swift, CEO of vehicle data specialist CMA UK.“This is just preying on the naive or vulnerable. It’s a free service and easy to use.”

The DVLA has previously warned motorists against using third-party websites that claim to help with vehicle-related services. Other sites have been found to charge drivers additional fees for vehicle tax and licence applications/renewals over the standard charges.

A DVLA spokesman said: “GOV.UK is the only official place to find our services online. By using GOV.UK, you can be sure that you are dealing directly with DVLA and you will not be charged additional fees for services you could get for free or at a lower cost.”

Read more: How to avoid online car scams – DVLA issues its top tips

HonestJohn.co.uk managing editor Dan Powell called a clampdown on such third-party sites.

He commented: “The vast majority of people will, of course, continue to use the government service. But the big concern is that those who aren’t familiar with the process of DVLA paperwork or, indeed, foreign nationals who aren’t aware that a free service even exists could be suckered into paying for something that doesn’t need to be paid for. It needs greater regulation.”

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