Holders of parking permits for disabled people – blue badges – are being warned not to be taken in by companies that charge to complete online application forms.
Croydon Council is aware of at least one applicant who was duped by a website offering to complete an application form.
The website – www.parking-permits.org – charged its standard fee of £50.00 per application, with the transaction appearing as Zeal Software on the bank statement.
Applicants can complete a simple form, subject to a £10 administration fee, by following the link here.
The fight against blue-badge fraud, and those seeking to take advantage of disabled people, is being stepped up in Croydon as national figures show that the number of disabled parking permits being stolen is on the rise.
In a bid to counter the online scammers, a simple-to-complete online form that makes it easier to report suspicions that any type of blue-badge fraud is going on is available on the council’s website.
The form – which can be found by following the link here – asks for details of the vehicle involved, and what type of fraud is suspected, be it theft, misuse or alteration of the permit.
The initiative was introduced against a background of proven cases of fraud, and others that are under investigation.
The most recent Local Government Association figures reveal that the number of blue-badge thefts nationally rose from 656 in 2013 to 1,756 in 2014. The LGA highlights examples of thieves breaking into cars and retirement homes to steal the permits and using their ill-gotten gains for free parking or to sell on the black market.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
“Croydon has long been serious in its intention to catch and prosecute those who seek to take illegal advantage of a scheme designed to improve accessibility for disabled people.
“The fraudulent use of blue-badge parking permits is something that angers both those that use the scheme responsibly and other motorists who see it being abused – and it’s an offence that we’ll continue to combat with the full weight of the law.
“The online form gives us another means of dealing with blue-badge fraud. It underlines the fact that we consider it an issue that has to be tackled head-on and shows that we mean to see it brought to an end in Croydon.”
Croydon Council operates a companion badge scheme, offering a badge that can be safely left in a vehicle as it is of no value to thieves. Unlike the blue badge, it is linked to a specific vehicle. More information is available here.