Google does not allow promotion of firms which charge fees for services that are free from an official site, yet the copycat sites persist. They are meant to prominently display that the service they are offering is available free of charge or for a lower fee, but this often displayed in small type at the bottom of the page, or not at all.
- Being misled into paying excessive prices for official services which can be purchased on the government department or local government site at the correct price. These services include:
- Birth and death certificates.
- Driving and various other licences.
- Driving tests.
- Being told that using copycat sites make a particular process or application faster or easier, when in fact you could do it yourself equally quickly and easily.
Searching and buying official services safely
- Do not automatically opt to use the first website(s) you find in a search engine, even if the address seems authentic and you are in a hurry.
- Instead, take time to look for the official website. You can normally tell that site is official if it has the department, agency or council’s authentic logo and contact details and the prices are cheaper (or free of charge).
- If you do opt to use an unofficial site to purchase official services, make sure that the payment page is secure by checking that the address begins with ‘https://’ (the ‘s’ is short for ‘secure’) and there is a locked padlock in the browser window.
If you think you have been misled into overpaying by using an unofficial site:
- Contact the site to insist on a refund, saying you think you were misled.
- Contact the relevant government department or agency or local government organisation and report the copycat site.