The internet has transformed the way we do everything from applying for a passport or birth certificate to taxing the car. But an epidemic of copycat websites is duping thousands of people into handing over huge extra fees for government services, the Daily Mirror reports.
These sites have official-looking logos and use authentic-seeming addresses. Some even have links to real government websites.
Only the small print reveals that they are in fact privately owned and often do no more than forward a simple form to official channels in exchange for fees that range from £20 for a TV licence to more than £1,000 for an income tax return.
Now ministers are being urged to crack down on the web copycats. Calling for a Commons debate on the issue yesterday, Labour MP Chris Evans warned: “Copycat websites are a part of a growing industry which exists purely to trick the public out of their hard-earned money.