Number plate scams on the rise as thousands of drivers risk unfair Ulez fines without knowing

Changing the number plate on a Land Rover

More than 16,000 number plates were cloned last year

Hemma Visavadia

By Hemma Visavadia

Published: 10/07/2024

- 12:39

Updated: 10/07/2024

- 16:07

To avoid number plate cloning, drivers are being advised to park inside a garage

Drivers have been warned of the rise in fraudulent vehicle number plate cloning which is sweeping across the UK and could impact all Britons.

The fraudulent practice involves taking a copy or duplicate of another vehicle's number plate and fixing it to a separate vehicle.

According to a Freedom of Information request to Transport for London, there were more than 16,000 penalties issued to vehicles due to the cloning mishap.

The cloning problem saw thousands of drivers unfairly issued with parking fines due to having the same plates as another car.

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Putting on new licence plates

The number of cloned cars has steadily increased since 2021


The FOI detailed how the number of cloned cars has nearly doubled since 2021 when there were 7,262 fines handed out.

In total, between January and December last year, 16,264 PCNs were issued to cars with cloned number plates in London alone.

According to the data reported in the FOI, a huge proportion of the total fines issued were for breaching Ultra Low Emission Zone rules which could see drivers pay £180.

The London Assembly explained that when a vehicle has been identified as having a cloned number plate, a report is created and a marker is added to the police national computer, and ANPR databases.

Once the rightful owner is established a letter is given to them if they were issued with a PCN. At this point, they may be able to dispute the fine.

Vehicle cloning is normally used for criminal activity or to avoid speeding tickets, parking fines, or toll and congestion charges.

Alice Hempstead, insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, told GB News: “Our research found that car cloning in London has more than doubled over the past three years, and unfortunately that's bad news for drivers across the country.

"As some drivers may know, insurance premiums are largely based on risk, so that means rising car thefts, cloning, and part-stealing throughout the UK will generally translate into higher insurance costs for everyone."

Hempstead added that there are steps drivers can take to prevent their number plates from being cloned.

She explained: "Most vehicle crimes are opportunistic, so parking in well lit, busy areas can often act as a deterrent, along with ensuring you're not leaving any valuables on display.

"At home, things like car covers, steering wheel locks or doorbell cameras can also deter criminals.

"For car cloning specifically, it's a good idea to be careful about sharing your licence plate details online, like in photos of your car on social media posts, as often these can be used by criminals. Instead consider blurring or obscuring your licence plate. "


A number plate

Drivers should contact the DVLA if they suspect their plates has been involved in fraud


Drivers should inform the police if they suspect that the registration number has been cloned and tell them why this may be the case.

Motorists should also report the issue to the DVLA to avoid getting fined for incidents which were not their fault.

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