Residents and visitors to Portsmouth should check they are using the government website when paying for Portsmouth’s Clean Air Zone to protect themselves from falling victim to scams.

Portsmouth City Council is issuing a warning to residents and visitors regarding fraudulent websites that claim to be authorised to collect payment for Clean Air Zones across the country. The only website that can check if your vehicle is compliant and collect payment if it is required is the official government website:

Deceptive websites could appear as the top search result and will charge your vehicle regardless of whether it is compliant to drive in a Clean Air Zone or not. This is a national problem which is being investigated. Portsmouth City Council does not receive any payments from the scam sites and is not able to issue refunds for fraudulent charges.

If people come across a website that they believe is fraudulent, they can report it to the National Cyber Security Centre. Those that think they have been a victim of fraud should report it to the police via the Action Fraud website and trading standards.

Not only do these scam websites potentially take people’s hard-earned money, but it also exposes them to fines as they may not be aware that they haven’t paid to drive in the Clean Air Zones in the right way.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Cabinet Member for Transport said:

“Anyone can fall a victim of scammers, who are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and often pay for their websites to appear as the first option on search engines, tricking people into inputting their payment information. Some people have already been scammed into paying the fraudulent site and this has been reported to the National Cyber Security Centre.”

“It is important that residents and visitors to Portsmouth are vigilant and making sure they are using the official government website to check their vehicle is compliant with Portsmouth’s Clean Air Zone and making any payments there if they are required. Private cars, motorcycles and vans are not required to pay to drive within our Clean Air Zone.”