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Press release: Misleading websites to face the squeeze

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Consumer Minister Jenny Willott confirms extra funding for the National Trading Standards Board to investigate misleading websites.



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Here's some advice as to how to best avoid these rogue websites:


Searching and Buying Official Services Safely


  • Do not automatically opt to use the first website(s) you find in a search engine, even if the address seems authentic and you are in a hurry.
  • Instead, take time to look for the official website. You can normally tell that site is official if it ends in ‘.gov.uk’, it has the department, agency or council’s authentic logo and contact details and the prices are cheaper.




Ways to spot a copycat website


There are a number of ways in which you can spot a copycat website. Follow our top tips to avoid falling victim to a copycat website:


  • Is it a paid search engine ad? Look out for paid-for search engine results. These are the boxed adverts displayed at the top of search engine result pages. Quite often the official site is the first or second non paid-for link that appears below these
  • Read the homepage Take a couple of minutes to double-check the site - don’t dive into filling out an application form. Visit the homepage and read the text there. It may even declare the site is not officially affiliated with the official body
  • Check the web address Don’t be fooled by a .org web address - this is no guarantee of an official website. Any website that is claiming to be an official government website should have a .gov.uk address
  • https vs http Although it's not always a guarantee, you can check for 'https' at the beginning of the website address. On pages where you are entering personal information, 'https' acts as an encryption to protect your personal details whereas websites with http don't encrypt your details.

The government has set up a guide to reporting a misleading website to search engines.





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