Unfortunately, car cloning is nothing new. However, the rapid surge in the cost of buying a car and insuring it has made cloning a car increasingly tempting for criminals. Throw in the implementation of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in London, and you have the perfect car cloning storm.

Indeed, figures released by Transport for London (TfL) have revealed that there was an 857% increase in the number of penalty notices being overthrown from April 2021 to April 2022 due to car cloning. 

Since ULEZ was expanded in October 2021, there has also been a 631% increase in penalty notices being overturned.

With this crime seemingly on the rise, it means more of us could become victims of car cloning, receiving speeding fines, penalty notices and parking tickets thanks to unscrupulous criminals.

This can be a scary and frustrating thing to happen, so we’ve put together the following information to help you, including whether cloned plates can impact your Car Insurance.

How do people clone your car?

When we talk about ‘cloning’ a car, we are referring to copying your licence plates. 

These licence plates are then attached to a car of a similar make, model and colour. This disguises the car’s true identity, which may be useful to a criminal if it is stolen, in addition to hiding the identity of the driver. This allows them to drive around and accrue penalties which are never sent to them to pay.

If you’ve posted photos of your car online with your licence plate number on show, you are increasing your risk of car cloning. Of course, your plate can be copied if it is spotted on the street, or even physically stolen, but it is much easier for criminals to find a matching car via the internet. 

The criminal then takes your licence plate details to an unscrupulous number plate supplier. Legally, these suppliers should ask for proof of ID and ownership, but there are some who look the other way. This allows a criminal to have a copy made and fixed to their own vehicle.

What to do if you suspect your car has been cloned

If you receive speeding or parking tickets unexpectedly, you may suspect that you’re the victim of a car cloning scam.

If this is the case, you will need to provide the fine issuer with evidence that you are not responsible. For instance, you may need to take extensive photos of your vehicle to demonstrate differences between it and the car identified by the authorities. You may also need to find evidence that you and your car were elsewhere when the fine was issued.

Another important thing to do is to report your car cloning suspicion to the DVLA and then to the police. This means that your cloned licence plate will be logged and, hopefully, the criminal found and prosecuted. 

How do you inform the DVLA of a cloned car?

You can make a DVLA report about cloned plates by visiting the DVLA’s website

You will need to outline the situation and any evidence you have for your cloned car. You should also provide your crime reference number, if you have one.

How to report cloned number plates to the police

To report cloned number plates to the police, you can call the non-emergency 101 number or the direct number for your local constabulary. You may also be able to make the report online by visiting your local police authority’s website. 

When you make your report, provide as many details as you can about your cloned car, why you think it’s been copied and your evidence to support this.

Is my Car Insurance at risk from cloned number plates?

Your Car Insurance is unlikely to be affected by cloned number plates. 

This is because the criminal using your cloned plates has no rights in law under your Car Insurance policy. This means that they cannot claim for damage to, or loss of, the vehicle. In any event, they would have no way of knowing your insurer’s identity, unless they accessed the Motor Insurance Database (MID), which incurs a fee and would expose their criminality!

In some circumstances, you may need to prove that your cloned car was not at the scene of any alleged incidents, but the anti-fraud resources of your car insurer should make this unnecessary. 

Where does that leave innocent third-party claimants?

On the (fairly safe) assumption that the cloned vehicle is uninsured and/or leaves the scene without exchanging details, an innocent victim of a road traffic accident is likely to be able to claim compensation using either of the long-standing Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) schemes: the Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement and the Untraced Drivers’ Agreement.

Will an MIB claim affect my own Car Insurance?

All MIB claims are funded by a compulsory annual levy paid by all authorised motor insurers in the UK market. This has no effect on individual motor policies – although, in the end, all motorists’ Car Insurance premiums take this into account.

Got questions about Car Insurance?

Give our specialist Car Insurance team a call on 0800 917 2274 to ask any questions or have or arrange a Car Insurance quote.