Warning over copycat websites

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18 Feb 2014
Rosie has issued a warning about copycat websites.

The websites charge for services – often hundreds of pounds – which are actually available for free on government-run websites.

Services such as applications for passports, driving licences and tax returns have all been targeted in recent months.

Rosie says a number of her constituents have already fallen victim to the sites, and is urging people to remain vigilant while online. 

She has also raised the issue with the government.

She said: “An increasing number of websites masquerade as official government services websites, but charge an undisclosed fee to users for services such passports, driving licences and tax returns.

“The people using these sites are charged a fee in addition to the possible charges for the government service itself – which is sometimes free of charge.

“For example, copycat website UK-Passport.net charges £72.50 for a passport application in addition to the actual £72.50 charge.

“Another copycat website, The Tax Return Gateway, can charge anything from £150-£1,000 for submitting Tax Return forms which are free to submit through HMRC’s portal.”

To find the official sites it is best to go to www.gov.uk and to select the service required, rather than doing a general search on Google, Bing or Yahoo.

Rosie added: “The websites are not illegal but they charge people for a verification service they often do not need. The Advertising Standards Agency labels them ‘copycat sites’.

“The Government needs to do everything it can to protect people from falling victim to this kind of thing, and I have raised the issue on behalf of my constituents who have already fallen victim to these sites.”

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Rosie Winterton MP for Doncaster Central
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