Wirral Trading Standards warn of misleading 'official' websites

Wirral Globe: Wirral Trading Standards warn of misleading 'official' websites Wirral Trading Standards warn of misleading 'official' websites

HOUSEHOLDERS are being advised to take care when using the internet to apply for official government documents.

Wirral Trading Standards has recorded a marked increase in calls about misleading websites that offer official documents at a charge – where often the services being charged for are available for free elsewhere.

Complaints forwarded from the Citizen’s Advice consumer service have included websites offering applications and renewals for passports, driving licences and self assessment tax returns at increased charges.

Confusion arises when consumers use a search engine to find the appropriate site to apply for such documents.

Some companies use Google Ads and domain names that are similar to the official websites to ensure they appear at the top of the search and attract unsuspecting web users.

The practice is legal, as most websites state they are not affiliated with the government organisations involved.

Councillor Brian Kenny, council cabinet member for environment, said:“It’s important that consumers are aware not only of where they might come into contact with illegal practices, but where they can be protected from paying for services which they simply do not need to.

Derek Payet, Trading Standards strategic manager said: “The best advice we can offer is to always apply for documents through www.gov.uk in the first instance. 

"If you’re still not certain, contact the Citizen’s Advice consumer service.”

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