Motorists looking to renew their vehicle's tax disc online are being warned about "copycat" websites that add a £40 "service fee" to proceedings.
The DVLA's official website – a subsidiary of the Gov.uk site - makes no charge, beyond the tax disc itself when motorists renew through official channels.
Several "copycat" websites have emerged online that offer the tax disc renewal service but charge the user an expensive "service fee" in order to turn a profit. One such site - taxdisc.direct.gov.uk – has modelled itself entirely on the official government portal.
Web users will notice the colour scheme, fonts and images used on the "copycat" site are the spitting image of those used on the official government channels and customers are only hit with the extra fees at the very end of the buying process.
The ease with which companies can advertise on search engines such as Google has lead to a spike in the number of fake or misleading websites, with operations targeting those looking for driving licence renewal, European Health Insurance Cards and tax returns.
Adverts for scam websites often appear at the very top of a Google search page when users type in search terms such as "car tax disc renewal" or "tax disc", causing people to believe it is an official site.
A spokesperson for the DVLA, which is currently working with Google to raise awareness of the issue, told The Telegraph: "The Department for Transport is aware of several websites not connected to DVLA or the official government website that are offering services to customers who are applying for tax discs and driving licences. The Office of Fair Trading has ruled that websites which charge additional fees and services are not acting illegally.
"The Government, led by the Cabinet Office, is taking action to tackle rogue websites and is working with organisations such as the Advertising Standards Authority, the National Trading Standards Board, Which? and search engines, including Google, to raise awareness of this issue and to ensure enforcement action is taken where appropriate."
Web users can protect themselves by always using the official government portal www.gov.uk.