After over 5,700 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority and Citizens Advice, actions have finally been taken in order to protect individuals from rogue websites replicating official government pages in order to steal money and identities from oblivious users. Complaints were most commonly about government websites for vehicle tax, driving licenses and passport applications.
After the arrest of 5 people charged with fraudulently running rogue government websites, an awareness campaign was released to warn people of the dangers they face when entering personal details into online sites without checking that they are genuine. The campaign acknowledges replicated government sites and has pushed a shout out across all web users that government service websites are all on the gov.uk website and cannot be found on alternative pages or similarly titled URLs.
Data collected from the complaints showed oblivious customers were conned into paying hundreds of pounds for services that should be free, as well as leading themselves into a position that could easily result in identity theft. Although the internet is a fantastic place for easy access to the likes of taxing a vehicle, people need to remain alert to rogue sites stealing their money and identity.
Trading standards are now attempting to make it as difficult as possible for online hoaxers to operate, as well as working with search engines such as Google to remove fraudulent ads from it’s pages.
If you believe you may have been affected by rogue websites within the UK, contact your local citizens advice and keep yourself protected from online risks.