I very nearly got caught by this particular scam … and am sure many others may have to !
When your passport is coming up for renewal… you tend to do a Google search for “Passport”, or something similar. The chances are that though, that the websites that display first are not (as they appear to be) the official government sites, but are in fact commercial companies who charge for checking things.
Hampshire County Council Trading Standards Service is warning residents to be cautious when using the internet to search for a quick way to renew their passports.
Fast track passport renewal services often appear close to the top of search engine results. However, whilst many are not illegal, they are not the official government passport service (and do not claim to be). They offer a checking service to make sure an application is filled out correctly, and normally charge between £30 and £45, on top of official fees.
Although it is not illegal to charge for a service which is being provided with the consent of the customer, these businesses are not doing anything which you cannot do yourself for free.
The Trading Standards Service advises Hampshire Consumers to not select the first website they see when carrying out an internet search, and to read the information on the website, especially the terms and conditions as these should detail what is being charged for.
If you are interested in having your passport application checked then Her Majesty’s Passport Office recommends you go to your local post office where they carry out this service for (current price) £8.75.