American visa site rip-offUnofficial visa websites charge for free service
28 January 2010
Visitors to the USA are being charged up to £123 for a visa application service that is available for free from official US government websites.
More than 80% of UK consumers who use search engines, such as Google, to find the form needed for visits to the USA click through to unofficial sites that charge for unnecessary services. Which? has found that most consumers risk giving their credit card or debit card details to sites that have no connection with the US authorities. The sites are often virtually impossible to trace.
The visa form needed to visit America (ESTA) can be downloaded from official US government sites - including the Department of Homeland Security and the US Embassy. It is simple to complete and there is no charge for it to be processed. The US Embassy confirmed that any site currently charging a fee for ESTA form services is not legitimate, and a spokeswoman told us: 'These businesses are not endorsed by, associated with, or affiliated in any way with the US government.'
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