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Planning to take the driver theory or driving test? You need to read this.

Unofficial test websites have ripped off over 5,000 people in last 12 months. Here’s how to avoid them.

GETTING the hang of the biting point is the hard part of learning to drive. Booking your driver theory and practical tests are the easy bits. Right?

Wrong. In the last 12 months, from April 2013 to April 2014, Irish drivers were ripped off on 5,000 separate occasions after being lured into booking their tests through unofficial websites.

The Road Safety Authority has compiled figures which show that a total of 5,436 tests were booked through sites other than the official www.theorytest.ie and www.rsa.ie (where you book your practical test) destinations in the past year.

On the rogue sites, ie, not the ones named above, you pay an extra – and entirely unnecessary – fee because you are going through an intermediary.

What you lost

  • Around 7,000 people trying to book their driver theory test got caught out by these third-party websites in 2013.
  • This cost each learner driver up to €23 extra per application.
  • Since 2011, over 4,750 people trying to book their practical driving test have accidentally booked through these third-party websites.
  • This cost each applicant an extra  €18 on top of the usual test fee.
  • In all, the RSA estimates that these sites, mostly based in the UK, could be benefitting to the tune of €200,000 from unsuspecting new drivers in Ireland.

So how do you not get caught out by these unofficial sites?

1. Know your URLs

The official place to book your driving theory test is, handily enough, www.theorytest.ie

The official place to book your practical driving test is www.rsa.ie

Accept no imitations.

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2. Beware of the word ‘official’…

…Unless it’s on one of the official sites we mention above.

Watch what happens when you search for a theory test site online. There are at least two sites on the first page of results which are third-party sites – and one of those has the most prominent use of ‘Official’ on the page. But it’s not the official official one.

3. Know what you should be paying

The driver theory test costs €45; the practical driving test costs €85.

If you are asked to pay more than that, get out of there. Stat.

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4. Protect your personal details

Declan Naughton, director of Driver Testing and Licensing with the RSA, told TheJournal.ie that he wanted to warn would-be customers of the dangers of passing on their personal details to third-party sites. You will be asked for your PPS number and other details when booking a test on rsa.ie and theorytest.ie but these are the secure, direct sites with a public service commitment to keep that information safe.

Do you want something like your PPS, driver number or credit card details in the hands of an intermediary? Probably not.

And yet, these unofficial sites are harvesting that information. The RSA has highlighted its concerns with the Data Protection Commissioner but as these sites mostly operate outside of Ireland, he has no jurisdiction over their activity.

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Once more for the road: If you want to avoid unnecessary extra fees, book your driver theory test at theorytest.ie and your practical driving test at rsa.ie.

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