Merton Council is warning residents to be cautious of websites which look like they are for official government bodies and charge money for services.
The warning comes after a number of residents reported problems to Merton’s trading standards team when visiting websites to renew their passport, driving licence or complete tax returns.
Residents found that after visiting what they believed to be official government websites, filling in online forms and paying for services, they still had to pay the relevant government department.
Some third party organisations look very similar in appearance to official government sites. It is not illegal to provide such services as long as businesses are upfront about who they are, the services they offer and how much the services cost. What they cannot do is mislead people into believing they are part of or connected with a government department when they are not.
Merton’s cabinet member for environmental cleanliness and parking, Councillor Judy Saunders said: “Our trading standards officers are always on the lookout for things that could confuse residents. When residents are trying to renew their passport, driving license or return tax forms they should be very cautious about giving credit card or personal details until they know who you are dealing with. Always check the terms and conditions before signing up to any service.”