/ Money, Motoring, Technology

Tfl to refuse congestion charge payments via copycat sites

london congestion charge sign

Copycat websites continue to draw in unwitting punters. One of the most common scams relates to the London congestion charge, but now Transport for London plans to step up its action against them.

At the beginning of 2014 more than 1,000 people a day were reportedly being duped by fake London congestion charge websites. Drivers were paying up to £8 extra for promised ‘additional services’ that added up to nothing at all.

In February, Transport for London (Tfl) announced that it had worked with Google and other search engines to remove these unofficial sites from advertised search results. This action has reportedly seen the number of payments made through copycat websites fall dramatically. But Tfl plans to go further.

Copycat congestion charge sites

For the next month Tfl is consulting on measures to refuse congestion charge payments performed through unofficial websites. If all goes well, the Congestion Charging legislation will be modified in December 2014.

Tfl’s consultation closes on 12 September 2014, after which a report will go to the Mayor who will decide whether to take the proposals forward. Oh, and remember that if you want to pay the congestion charge, do so through the official website.

Do you think it’s a good idea for Tfl to refuse congestion charge payments that have come from unofficial sites?

To stop this from being a London-centric debate, I want to know whether you think the same action should be taken by other official government services. For example, do you think passport applications submitted through a copycat website should be refused?


I doubt if the copycat sites have anything to loose by this action, they will still take the consumers money and anyone complaining will be told to contact the genuine site !!
As the sites will probably be abroad difficult to take legal action against them.
The only hope will be if the Credit Card companies and PayPal agree to refund the customers funds and block the sites accounts.

Surely the easiest way to tackle these copycat sites is a simple law to make it illegal to spoof a government or public body website unless they have in huge letters We are not affiliated with …

With large I’m talking £500k + fines and lengthy jail terms ( you need the large fine to cover the cost of the stay in HMP Holiday camp).

The most effective way to put an end to such sites is to have them added to the phishing blacklists, so that web browsers automatically warn users that the site is dishonest before any part of the page is displayed. I know this isn’t phishing, but perhaps the web browser suppliers need to take a broader view of dishonest web sites that are designed to trick users into parting with money under false pretences.

I very much agree but have no idea of how this could be coordinated and kept up to date.

In the meantime using a portal approach (e.g. accessing government sites via gov.uk) could be extended, effectively having a way of safe way of accessing sites when intending to make a purchase.

Excellent idea and a single portal is very cost-effective to promote, advertise. and get to the top of search engine results.

Phishing sites can already be submitted for addition to Google’s blacklist at https://www.google.com/safebrowsing/report_phish/. These blacklists are checked automatically by web browsers in order to warn users who are about to visit fraudulent web sites, but Google needs to broaden the scope of this facility and include all sites that take money by deception, not only sites that steal personal data.

There’s major issues with this suggestion no matter how sensible it may seem.

Remember the blocking of the pirate bay, the day they blocked it you could search for the pirate bay on google it just didn’t return any results for what people where looking for, however you could search for bay pirate and see all those results that had been blocked. It was so funny I still laugh at it even now when I remember it. And even now there are dozens of portals to allow access to it you just need to search for those which of course aren’t covered by the rules.

The people that make the rules, really have no idea what they’re talking about and the people that implement them will do as little as they can get any with. Hence my earlier suggestion.

The government portal may be an easier why forward, but that’s been up for over 2 years and how many people have been caught by copycat sites? The government really should advertise it more. They could make smart phone and tablets sellers put a handy sheet in with every purchase, but again I guess that’s too easy.

How about a gov.uk app ?

Its a pity that some quasi-government organisations do not use the .gov.uk suffix.
e.g. Blood donations = http://www.blood.co.uk

or even the NHS http://www.nhs.uk