Drivers! Beware copycat government websites!
Thanks to these sites, people have been paying extra for things like applying for a driving test or congestion charges. We've looked at these sites before, with tax returns and others, but these shady sites just won't go away.
Seeing as the government can't be arsed warning you about these impersonators, we might as well be the ones to do it.
The AA have told the Transport Select Committee about these snide-sites, and reports have been submitted looking at the work of the DVLA, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).
What these sites do, is act as a needless middleman so they take some money off a duped driver to process something for a fee, when the motorist could've done it for free through an official government website. Transport for London have already asked the DVLA to send letters to drivers who have used these unofficial swines and are in talks about a proposal that won't accept payments made from these third parties.
Of course, all the motoring bodies should be doing this, but they're being very, very slow on the uptake and it seems no-one is addressing the issue.
One thing that clearly needs to happen is some action from the Government Digital Service (GDS), who liaise with Google and the like, and they can take action against "websites that add little or no value to existing online Government services". The National Trading Standards Board needs to pull its finger out also - they've received additional funding to 'clamp down on misleading websites'.
With the DVLA struggling to manage the new paperless car tax system, it is obvious that the government isn't coping particularly well with drivers' needs. As well as adapting to the changes, the government need to do more to warn drivers about these third party websites. And while they're at it, the DVLA also needs to look at how they share personal data with companies that rinse drivers through costly parking enforcement.
There's a lot that needs to be done, but remember this for now: if it doesn't have .gov.uk in the URL, avoid it.