TRADING standards chiefs from across Burton, South Derbyshire and North West Leicestershire have warned people not to fall victim to copycat websites when they order or renew official documents.
Officers from county councils in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire spoke out after hundreds of people were duped into paying for free services or were overcharged last year.
Trading standards has received complaints about websites targeting a range of official documents, and the conmen are now targeting people paying for driving theory tests.
An official theory test costs £31, however some customers have reported being charged £55 when using a copycat website to book their assessment.
Pam Posnett, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for trading standards, said: “People can easily be fooled as these websites work by charging a fee for forwarding a consumer’s details on to the correct authority, or for processing the application by posting you the information for you to apply directly.
“Often, people are conned into paying needless fees for services which are normally free.
“This can range anywhere from £20 for a new European health insurance card up to £90 to update the address on their driving licence – both of which are free – and now driving theory tests have been added to the list.”
David Bull, head of trading standards at the authority, said: “It is very easy to end up on one of these third-party websites.
“If you read the website details they do tell you that they are not the official site and they are charging for a service which is available free elsewhere.
“However, we are regularly receiving complaints from residents who feel they have been misled by these websites.”
Anyone who needs to apply or update their details for any of these documents should do so via the website www.gov.uk, which will direct them to the correct online pages.
More information about scams is available online at www.leics.gov.uk/tradingstandards, www.staffordshire.gov.uk/business/tradingstandards or www.derbyshire.gov.uk/business/trading_standards/