Copycat passport application sites

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

UK passportFive people have been arrested in connection with running websites that charge you more than the government does for applying you for a passport.

Just about Travel has drawn attention to these websites that masquerade as government sites but have nothing to do with the government. This time Trading Standards’ officers have managed to persuade the police to step in and these five people were netted.

Remember that there are fees for obtaining a passport but that the official site will end in gov.uk. So the passport office official website is www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-passport-office. No other site need be visited.

Some of the search engines have been assisting as – prior to this – the copycat sites used to advertsie so their websites appeared before the official passport office one. Now Google has no adverts on the first page so your eyes are led straight to the government website. The same applies to the Bing, Duckduckgo and Yahoo search engines as well.  Duckduckgo flags up the official site with a reddish-brown capsule next to it. But if you use Dogpile, you will need to wade through the first records before you get to the official site. Isquick has four adverts before the official site and Ask has one.

But it isn’t only the UK passport office that is affected. If you are going to the USA, you need to complete an ESTA application. The official site is https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/. 

So be careful. And remember that this doesn’t just apply to passport and visa sites. One group suggested these scams are costing us obver £2 million per year.

 

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