Thieving, Lying Reprobates…


Do NOT use this site!!

Beware of these reprobates!

I have to admit I have been scammed!  However, and in my defence, at no point in the purchase did it let on that, they were not an official site, or that I was are merely paying a fee for the form filling and not for the actual passport.  The site goes out of their way to look legitimate, that they are ‘not the official site’ is hidden in the middle of tiny grey text on a grey background at the bottom of the page when I was looking for the customer services, and was nowhere to be seen when I first used the site.

When I had not received the completed forms to sign  within the promised 10 days, I discovered their ploy and we have had to stump-up the full cost of the passports again to pay HM IPS once if your form ever arrives.

This site not only break several of Google’s terms for advertising, such as not using google to commit fraud, not to mention utterly ignoring the law that states that individual terms and conditions cannot under any circumstances override statutory consumer rights, but Google don’t seem to mind, being a patsy for thieves, so long as they’re getting paid to advertise: yes, you heard me Google, right now you might as well be the front for the Maffia!

To add to this disgrace, they are actually one of 2 companies charging for a service the HM IPS offer free, that come up before the official site on a Google search for passport services’. This apparently breaks Google’s terms and conditions, according to a Guardian article from earlier in the year (see bottom) but it looks like they have taken that clause out rather than fixed the actual problem.

On top of financial fraud this there is the theft of personal details under false pretences to consider.  So far, these companies have merely been fined for their blatantly fraudulent conduct.  Why have they not been prosecuted and imprisoned too?  Yes, I feel like an utter muppet for falling for it and I now have to find another £49 per passport for Oscar and Henry because once they have your money you can’t get hold of them. They don’t even provide what you have paid for.

So far, I have notified:

  • The Office of Fair Trading
  • The Advertising Standards Agency
  • HMRC
  • BBC Watchdog

about this company but really need to let people know not to use them as a matter of conscience.  I am really REALLY pissed off and don’t want other people caught by the same trap.

For your own safety, do not trust a Google search,  ONLY use the HMRC official site

Also See

 

Updates:

Apparently, their tiny and barely readable disclaimer, makes what they do a legal and legitimate service in the eyes of trading standards and the ASA. However, having heard the issue raised again on BBC Radio 4’s ‘You and Yours’ this week, I gather the problem of people being scammed is on the increase.

Why do they not just make these ‘services’ illegal and be done with it, and make Google liable for accepting money to advertise them?

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Random Tangents
    Dec 14, 2013 @ 12:20:48

    Automated Reply from Office of Fair Trading

    Thank you for your email to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
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  2. Random Tangents
    Dec 14, 2013 @ 11:32:01

    Reply from HM IPS. They don’t seem keen to be dealing with them or making people aware of using their free service.

    Dear Mrs Johnstone

    Thank you for your email regarding an unofficial website.

    Her Majesty’s Passport Office are aware of these websites, however, most operate within the law and we are unable to stop their operation. We only have powers to act against a website who claims to be Her Majesty’s Passport Office or operating on our behalf when we are not in fact associated with them.

    We are greatly concerned with these websites that result in either misleading people or costing the public unnecessary expense or both by providing incorrect or incomplete passport advice.

    We have taken action in the past and will continue to monitor the situation in the future to determine whether further action needs to be taken with relevant regulatory authorities about websites. We are working together with GOV.UK (formerly Direct.Gov) and regulatory bodies to explore ways to counteract their activities. In the light of your concerns, we have written to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which has regulatory responsibility for online adverts. We have asked if non-official websites can be required to provide a more explicit message to indicate that they are not acting on behalf of Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HM Passport Office). They have responded positively and are investigating similar complaints made directly to them. Indeed, on 4 September 2013, the ASA censured one of these sites and required them to cease to claim within their search results and advertising that they were the ‘Official’ UK Passport Application Service.

    We await the outcome of the ASA’s further investigations but will continue to monitor websites indicating access to passport services.

    We have also discussed the matter with trading standards officials. A key part of their advice is that individuals affected by using these websites should complain to the relevant regulator.

    If you wish to take this matter further you can complain direct and are advised to contact the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Their telephone number is 020 7492 2222. Their website is http://www.asa.org.uk.

    In the meantime your email relating to an unofficial website has been logged and will be noted in support for the ASA’s investigations and I will also log the extra information about the website you kindly provided in your email.

    For further information on applying for passports or our free on online forms service please use the official website link https://www.gov.uk/browse/abroad/passports or contact our passport advice line on 0300 222 0000.

    I am sorry for the inconvenience caused to you by the unofficial website.
    Kind regards,
    Sarah Coughlan
    PO3 Customer Contact Centre
    Operations
    Rheolwr Tîm y Ganolfan Cyswllt Cwsmeriaid

    Her Majesty’s Passport Office
    Nexus House l Mission Court l Newport l NP20 2DW
    Swyddfa Basbort Ei Mawrhydi
    Tŷ Nexus l Mission Court l Casnewydd l NP20 2DW

    T: 0845 601 5403 | |
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    http://www.gov.uk/hm-passport-office
    PPlease consider the environment; do you really need to print this email