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"Beware of ESTA Scams"

1535 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  howell811
We're going on holiday in the US in October, for which we need ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) authorization to travel under the Visa Waiver Program. Our current ESTAs run out in September, so we need to renew them.

ESTA applications can be done on line via the US Customs & Border Protection Website & cost $14. I did a search for "ESTA renewal" - the first website it came up with was: ESTA Renewal - not the US government's website, but I thought it might contain a link, so I took a look at it. It took me too a sort of official-looking website, with no indication (other than the URL) that it's not an official site & a warning to "Beware of ESTA Scams". I followed the "ESTA renewal" link where I was offered a "professional processing service", for which they want $59! They do, to be fair, offer "fast service - 24 hour response to all applications" . . . our last ESTA applications took less than 24 hours if I remember correctly. Out of curiosity I looked at their application form; it's the standard US government form minus some of the non-mandatory questions, such as phone number, travel information & address while in the US.

"Beware of ESTA Scams" . . . I'd say charging $45 (their $59 includes the $14 government fee) for doing nothing more than forwarding an incomplete form & implying that they can get an application processed more quickly than it would take if the application were made direct to the official site is as close to a scam as you're going to get without actually doing anything illegal. Nice little earner,though!
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Same thing happens with the EHIC cards. Companies on the web charge for these, when you can apply for free. :rolleyes: :tut:
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