UK Advertising Watchdog Banned 3 Copies of Government ChannelsAdded: Monday, September 22nd, 2014
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The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK has banned 3 “copycat” services that were masquerading as government channels for health insurance cards, passports and birth certificates.
europeanhealthcard.org.uk, uk-officialservices.co.uk and ukpassportoffices.co.uk all duped Internet users into thinking they were official government channels offering various services. The advertising watchdog ruled that all 3 portals cannot appear again in their current format and must in future include disclaimers saying that they were not official channels. In addition, the websites are required to provide explicit details of any additional costs they charge for their services.
The agency explained that a large number of consumers complained about portals offering access to online government services, but which were unofficial channels, charging a premium. The Advertising Standards Authority also said that following research about the public’s experience of such portals this past summer, it conducted in-depth investigations to decide how such websites are supposed to offer their services to avoid misleading.
For example, it turned out that the europeanhealthcard.org.uk website charged consumers for an application verification service. At the same time, the EHIC was available for free if people applied for via the official gov.uk website.
As for the uk-officialservices.co.uk, the portal offered users to receive birth, adoption, marriage, civil partnership and death certificates. Since it was not the official service, it charged a premium along with costs normally charged by the official gov.uk website. Most Internet users confirmed that they believed a website enabling them to obtain government-issued certificates was official.
Finally, the ukpassportoffices.co.uk portal charged for their application verification service. At the same time, their fees didn’t include the fee charged by HM Passport Office, but the consumers would still have to pay it directly to the government afterwards.
The move of the agency follows the campaign of the UK newspaper The Guardian, alerting its readers to copycat websites. Besides, a parallel investigation by Which? examined ten portals that provided services for passport applications, EHIC cards and tax return services – all of them appeared misleading or confusing, providing poor value for money.
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Monday, September 22nd, 2014No comments
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