Copy Ads for Common Travel Documents “Rise” on Search Engines


People are misled into paying more than necessary for routine travel documents due to the copycat ads plaguing search engines. has warned.

The consumer group has looked at advertisements for health cards, driver’s licenses and visas that may appear in prime locations along popular sites such as Google and Bing, above official channels.

Among them were 18 ads that overcharged users for services that were available free of charge.

Brexit and traveler confusion are also being exploited, with six results for the Global Health Insurance Card (Ghic) on Google attempting to charge at least £ 30 each, even though it is available for free through the NHS.

Another ad even suggested breaking the law by offering a driving license in Spain without a driving test, which one? mentionned.

Contacted by a researcher posing as a motorist banned from driving in the UK, a respondent said he had contacts within the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) who could clear the ban and get a new one. own driving license, for £ 685 (800 euros).

There is no evidence that the Respondent had any contact in the DVLA and the ad eventually disappeared after being reported to the agency.

Other copycat ads reported directly to Google changed to show official websites for a day, but six weeks later there were 14 new copycat ads in their place, which ones? complaints.

“Copycat ads have been a problem for years, so it’s worrying that they always appear at the top of search results – often before the official site – and charge unnecessary fees,” said Adam French, Which? consumer rights specialist.

“Search engines need to take more responsibility for the ads that appear and verify the business before deceptive ads are posted in the first place.

“In the meantime, unfortunately, it’s up to us to keep an eye out for copycat ads.

“If you’re trying to renew a driver’s license, get a health card, or apply for a visa, be sure to use the official website so you don’t have to pay unnecessary bills.”

One who separated? A survey of DVLA copycat ads for driver’s license renewals found that almost three-quarters (73%) of the most common searches return ads for third-party websites charging £ 50 to £ 100 – seven times the official fees – to “verify” and renew licenses.

The consumer group says eight third-party ads appeared on a single Bing search for “how to renew a driver’s license,” all charging at least double the DVLA rate for “verification” and renewal.

Meanwhile on Google, eight ads appeared for the search “renew driver’s license at 70”.

All of the ads dominated the top search results and charged £ 50 renewal for people over 70, although this is free from the DVLA.

Google responded to the findings by saying, “We have strict policies governing the types of ads and advertisers we allow on our platforms.

“We only allow governments or their delegated suppliers to advertise official documents or services.

“When ads violate our policies, we take steps to remove them. “

A spokesperson for Microsoft, owner of Bing, said: “As our policies make clear, advertisers who promote products and services must ensure that they comply with all laws and regulatory requirements. applicable local.

“We encourage people to report deceptive or fraudulent advertisements that they may see so that we can investigate them and take appropriate action.”

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