The UK’s Government Digital Service are launching a thunderclap (http://thndr.it/1qsJ9Cv) to encourage people to start at GOV.UK when accessing UK government information and services (#StartatGOVUK). Be awesome and beat the scammers!
There is a problem with websites pretending to be official UK government services. Some of these take money from people. These unscrupulous people use google ads to get to the top of search engine rankings so that they are clicked on by people looking to interact with government.
- Scammers make people pay for free services (e.g. E111 / EHIC are provided free, scammers charge people £20-£30)
- People pay twice for services (e.g. scammers make people pay more for government services and often the person also has to pay for the real service when they access it – this has happened on driving licence renewals, tax self-assessment and urgent passport services)
Dealing with the problem
There are two main parts to the problem. One is about stopping the misleading websites at source. Often the scammers are sticking to the fine line of legality, so enforcement action is limited to stopping them mislead people. If you look very closely at their sites you’ll find disclaimers and notices that they are not official. You’ll also find that they don’t take money for directly providing the service, but for facilitating your access. This stops them being done for fraud, but they rely on the consumer not spotting the very small print.
GDS have been working on this lately with the major search engine providers, and for certain key services this stopped adverts, for the time being at least.
The other main part of the campaign to stop people being mislead is user education, we need to make citizens able to spot the real Gov.UK. If they can spot the real thing then they won’t be scammed. All Government services now start from www.gov.uk, links from there take you to the service pages for individual transactions.
You can be awesome and beat the scammers by joining in. The UK’s Government Digital Service are launching a thunderclap (http://thndr.it/1qsJ9Cv) to encourage users to start their journey at GOV.UK if they wish to access UK government information and services (#StartatGOVUK).
What is a Thunderclap?
It is a tool that crowdspeaks (like an online flashmob). It works on the principle that a message is heard when everyone says it together at the same time. The message is shared via social media channels (twitter / facebook / tumblr). In signing up to a thunderclap, you are agreeing to a single message being published from your chosen social media account at a particular point in time (8 July in this instance). In advance of this date, work is done to encourage as many people as possible to sign up to the thunderclap so that the impact of the announcement, when it happens, is as significant as possible.
The Thunderclap activity has started – the Thunderclap itself will send your message on 8th July 1.30pm. This is the only time that thunderclap will have access to your account. After this, the thunderclap is finished and no further messages will be posted from your account.
Nothing you read here should be taken as an official statement, these are my own opinions and I am encouraging people to support an official campaign because I strongly believe that people shouldn’t be taken advantage of and asked to pay more than they have to for information or services.