The imminent expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is not the only aspect of the scheme to have hit the news recently.
We have also received a number of reports of ‘copycat websites’ – unofficial sites via which drivers can pay the ULEZ charge which applies to vehicles not meeting the scheme’s standards because of the volume of polluting nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter they create.
Some of these websites charge a fee over and above TfL’s official £12.50 charge for non-compliant cars, motorcycles, vans and specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes) and minibuses (up to and including 5 tonnes) to provide the payment service.
This type of website – which we a call ‘copycat website’ – is not exclusive to the ULEZ scheme, and can be found for anything from passports to fishing licences. They often claim to offer ‘additional services’, in this case ‘checking your vehicle registration details’, but TFL says that unofficial sites cannot offer more checks than are made on its official site. Some unofficial sites offer a telephone service, but the caller is charged an inflated rate to connect with what is actually TfL and not the owner of the unofficial site.
We have also heard of other sites which simply rip off visitors and provide neither payment nor other services … a plain case of fraud. In the case of ULEZ, drivers experience the double whammy of not only losing their payment but getting hit with a fine for non-payment of the charge.
Some of the websites claim to apply to not only London’s ULEZ scheme but Clean Air Zone (CAZ) schemes which operate in other cities around the UK.
Our advice for safe payment of ULEZ and CAZ charges
- Use only TFL’s official website to pay the ULEZ charge, and the corresponding official websites for the CAZ charge operating in other cities. These will include a ‘.gov.uk’ suffix in the website address.
- If you are doing an online search for ULEZ or CAZ charges – or other websites for payment of public services – do not automatically opt to use the first site that pops up even if the address seems authentic, or you are in a hurry. Operators of copycat websites and fraudsters pay large sums of money for their sites to appear prominently in search engine results to make you believe that they are authentic.