ULEZ: Drivers being scammed by ‘copycat’ websites
Drivers are being warned to avoid Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) scams as copycat website cash in on the new charges.
The ULEZ has now been expanded to include all of London’s boroughs. Drivers must pay £12.50 a day if they drive a non-compliant vehicle anywhere in the zone under the controversial clean-air plan.
The charge can be paid by phone up to three days after travelling in the zone. The penalty for not paying it is £180, which goes down to £90 if paid within 14 days.
But drivers attempting to pay the £12.50 charge are being targeted by copycat websites and then being fined by Transport for London (TfL) for non-payment.
Copycat scammers have created their own websites which look similar to TfL’s, where they collect money from unsuspecting victims. This is then not passed on to TfL, meaning it has no record of a driver’s payment and therefore issues fines.
One member of the public approached consumer champion Which? after inadvertently paying a company that appeared as ‘Ulezpayservice’ on their bank statement, rather than the official TfL website.
They had clicked on an advert on Google that they assumed took them to an official website to pay the ULEZ charge – but it took them to a copycat website instead and paid £17.50 despite the official charge being £12.50.
Their bank later informed them that the website had set up a continuous payment authority (allowing them to take recurring payments) that has since been cancelled.
One driver pays £500 on fake sites
One driver told the BBC that they had been tricked by a copycat site and ended up paying £500 in TfL fines for non-payment. Another driver paid using a site at the top of his search engine after he drove in the ULEZ. He later received a £90 fine from TfL for non-payment.
Researchers at Which? found Google adverts for two identical websites – ‘ulez.emission[dot]london’ and ’emissioncharge[dot]london’ – when they searched for ‘pay for ulez’ or simply ‘ulez’.
These adverts were shown above the official TfL website, and have both since been reported to Google and taken down.