Beware the car tax refund scam emails

Chris Torney / 13 May 2015 ( 17 March 2017 )

Don't fall victim to a fake email offering road tax refunds from the DVLA. We explain how the car tax refund scam works and how to avoid being caught out.



Fraudsters are taking advantage of changes to the UK’s car tax system to try and trick motorists into revealing sensitive financial information.

In 2014, the way road tax – or Vehicle Excise Duty, to give it its official name – was collected was reformed. Until then, if a car was sold before it ran out of tax, the tax was simply passed on to the new owner.

Read more about the new car tax rules

Sellers’ car tax refunds

Now, it is up to the buyer to arrange tax from the moment they take ownership of the vehicle, with any outstanding full months’ road tax being refunded to the seller.

Claiming a car tax refund

It's very easy to claim a car tax refund on a car you have sold, scrapped or declared off the road. 

Once you have taken one of these courses of action, your car tax refund will automatically be triggered, and the DVLA will send a cheque through to the registered keeper within 6 weeks. 

If you don't get this refund in the allocated time, contact DVLA; then if you still haven't heard after 4 weeks, contact them again.

Unless you email them first, you should not receive an email from the DVLA offering to sort out your car tax refund; that's where the scam takes over...

How the car tax refund scam email works

However, it has been reported that criminals are emailing people pretending to be from the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) and offering to pay the car tax refund.

These emails ask recipients for their bank details, as well as other information, such as internet banking passwords and log-ins, so the car tax 'refund' can be processed. In fact, the fraudsters plan to use this information to empty their victims’ bank accounts.

Even if you have contacted them about your car tax refund and are expecting an email in return, make sure you keep your wits about you; the DVLA says it would never ask licence holders to send in bank details via email.

Planning to take a holiday with your car? Read our tips for driving long distances. 


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What do I do if I receive a car tax refund scam email?

If you have received a suspected phishing email, be it a car tax refund scam or something else that has given you alarm bells, you can report it to the Action Fraud service. This allows the police to build up a picture of how fraudsters are operating.

Don't respond to the scammers, even to give them a piece of your mind, as this will let them know the email account is actively being used, and they might step up their attempts to con you.

You should also mark the message as spam or junk, so your email program can block similar emails in future.  

If you think you have given your bank details or account log-in information to fraudsters as a result of phishing or for any other reason, contact your bank immediately: it may be able to block any fraudulent attempts to take your money. 

 You should also log in to your online bank account as soon as possible and change your password to prevent unauthorised access.

Checking your credit report regularly is one way to identify if you are a victim of fraud. Check yours now with our no-obligation, free trial.

What is phishing?

This type of fraud is known as phishing: most commonly, phishing emails purport to come from a bank and warn victims that suspicious activity has been reported on their accounts.

They are then asked to log in to their online banking service to put matters right – but the fraudsters typically ensure they log in on a fake website from which their details and passwords can be stolen.

How to avoid the driving licence scam

How to spot phishing attempts

Fake emails often contain spelling mistakes and do not refer to you by name, instead using phrases such as ‘Dear customer’.

Banks will rarely ask you for sensitive information by email. If you are concerned about your account, contact your bank by phone (using the number you normally call) or by typing in its web address yourself – do not use a phone number or link found in a dubious email as it may be fake.

Next article: Signs an email may be a scam  >>>

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.