A North Vancouver, B.C. man is warning the public about an overseas website that charges a fee to book road tests with the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC), even though these types of exams can be booked for free through the corporation's own web page.
Matthew Fazakas, 27, paid $49 to book his road test online. He used his cellphone to book the test online and said the site looked like the ICBC page.
When Fazakas showed up at the ICBC's Burnaby road test office on Feb. 20 the appointment was booked as billed, but Fazakas was surprised he still owed a $35 testing fee when he thought he'd paid online.
That's when Fazakas realized he had inadvertently paid to have a third party book his ICBC appointment for him.
"It's just a pretty shady thing and unfortunate," said Fazakas who admits he quickly clicked through the site.
When he recently looked at the site again, which is called bcroadtest.com, he noticed there was a disclaimer that the site is based in the U.K., and not affiliated with the Insurance Corporation of B.C.
Fazakas says he used the site in the first place because when he tried to book his test multiple times on the actual ICBC web page, those attempts failed.
So he decided to start over. He did a Google search for "road test" and bcroadtest.com showed up at the top.
Staff at the driving test office in Burnaby told him they often receive complaints from unsuspecting drivers who inadvertently book a road test using the British website.
ICBC says the corporation hears similar complaints about bcroadtest.com a few times a month.
Fazakas said the complaints should be a signal that something is wrong.
"If it's happening all the time, maybe you want to try and fix it," he said.
ICBC has not taken legal action against the site's operators, noting there is a disclaimer on the bcroadtest.com homepage that also includes a link to ICBC's website.
A spokesperson for ICBC says the corporation is also exploring other action unrelated to trademark infringement to prevent the third party website from booking road tests but wouldn't release details at this time.
As well, it's looking into whether it can work with Google Ads to avoid having bcroadtest.com appear above ICBC's web page when people search "road test."
ICBC says it will now warn people about third party web pages when they come to ICBC offices to get learner's licences.
The site, bcroadtest.com, didn't respond to CBC requests for an interview, but revisiting the web page revealed several changes with a 24-hour period.
An "s" was added to the site's name so that it read bcroadtests.com, and the format and colour of the page were also altered.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) says different web-sites that offer actual third party services can't be classified as fraudulent.
The only thing the centre can do is advise consumers they can do the same service themselves for free by contacting the proper government agency.
Members of the public are advised to verify that any website accessed for road test bookings is operated by the provincial government.
The main concern is third party operators collect data like credit card information, driver's licence numbers, addresses, dates of birth and phone numbers, said CAFC anti fraud analyst Robert Rochefort.
"We always suggest to consumers, if they believe that they have given that information to a potential fraudulent company, to immediately contact their financial institution," said Rochefort.
With files from Paisley Woodward
CBC Vancouver's Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. If you have a story for us, email email@example.com.