Deceptive 'copycat' websites are designed to con you into believing that you are on a genuine website.
Fraudsters operate fake websites in all sorts of ways, for ordering new passports, booking driving tests, renewing car tax, all designed to con you out of money.
By imitating official government services online, copycat websites are designed to trick you into parting with your money unnecessarily by charging users for services that are provided cheaper or free-of-charge through official government channels.
The most commonly reported complaints related to tax returns, driving licences, European Health Insurance Cards and passports.
The National Trading Standards eCrime Team are taking action to disrupt these copycat websites, executing search warrants and arrests being made for those responsible. Alongside these enforcement efforts, National Trading Standards is issuing advice for consumers to beat the online con-artists, including a video guide at:
Top tips to avoid being conned
- Use www.gov.uk. It's the easiest and most secure place to find government services and information online.
- Instead of searching for the services you need via a search engine, go to www.gov.uk directly and use the search function there. Then you’ll know you’re on the official site.
- If you do use a search engine, look out for the differences between natural search results and paid-for search results.
Help and advice
If you think you've been conned by a copycat website, contact the Citizens Advice consumer service:
- on-line: www.citizensadvice.org.uk
- tel. freephone: 0808 223 1133