Drivers warned of number plate issue which may see Britons hit with Ulez fines without being in London

Drivers warned of number plate issue which may see Britons hit with Ulez fines without being in London

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Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 03/03/2024

- 08:00

Updated: 15/03/2024

- 11:26

Experts are offering advice to drivers about how they can avoid being a victim

Drivers are being warned about number plate “spoofing” and how it could see them hit with huge fines even if they are unaware of it happening.

Data from Transport for London shows that in the last two years alone, 19,000 Ulez charges were overturned because a driver was able to prove their plate had been copied.

Further estimates suggest that around 27,000 number plates are cloned across the UK every year.

Motorists who frequent London, or any other Clean Air Zone or Low Emission Zone, are urged to be especially aware of the problems they could face.

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Number plate and Ulez sign

Drivers are being warned of number plate cloning common in the London Ulez


Spoofed or cloned number plates can lead to massive fines for the victims, as well as the hassle of trying to get out of the charges.

In the case of the London Ulez scheme, cars, vans, motorcycles, caravans, and minibuses can all be slapped with a £180 penalty charge for not being compliant.

These charges can increase if they are not paid, potentially resulting in someone with cloned plates receiving bills for hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

Bryn Brooker, head of road safety at Nextbase, called on drivers to reduce their risk of having their number plate “spoofed” with a number of methods.

The expert suggested that drivers could add some sort of extra detail to their number plate, although it must be a legal addition.

He added: “Adding a legal badge to your plate – such as a country flag or similar – will make it that much harder to easily copy.

“It could also come in handy if you need to prove your plate doesn’t match someone else’s.

“Make sure to take a photo of your car with the extra detail plate immediately so you can prove you haven’t added it on to avoid the fine.”

Brooker also urged motorists to avoid taking photos of their vehicle online, especially if it is identifiable, including distinctive markings and the number plate.

Criminals who are looking to clone plates will generally try to match the plates to exact models and makes.

He warned drivers posting pictures on social media or on an online marketplace to obscure the licence plate number or leave it out of the picture when posting images.

Small or distinctive stickers can have the same impact. Drivers with a clearly visible on their lower windscreen can help the owner differentiate their vehicle from others when it has been snapped by an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera.


Police car with ANPR camera

Drivers could be issued with fines if their cloned plate is caught by an ANPR camera


Brooker continued, saying: “Dash cams timestamp their footage, offering you another easy way to prove that you weren’t anywhere near a speed camera or crash that occurred with a spoofed plate.

“It could also be extremely useful if someone tries to actually steal your plates or comes near your car – as it will start filming the moment the car is knocked or someone gets too close.”

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