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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of the Week: Beware of deceptive licensing websites

By Tyler Russell BBB Northwest and Pacific

The fall is a great season to get out and enjoy the outdoors, and the Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific wants to make sure you are safe with your hard-earned money.

Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific has seen an increase in complaints nationwide regarding a licensing website claiming to be based in Idaho. Consumers report FishingLicense.Org in Coeur D’Alene appears to be selling fishing licenses, but instead is selling downloadable informational guides.

BBB initially warned about the company in August 2017 but has continued to see complaints increase. In the past three years, the company has had 26 complaints against it, with 14 reported in the past year.

Consumers say when they complete an online search for “fishing license” the search engine leads them to a page on FishingLicense.Org. The page tells the user they can purchase, renew or replace their license. But after a purchase is made, the consumer discovers they ordered an informational guide. The website does state the consumer is purchasing an informational guide; however, the site is set up to appear as if visitors are actually purchasing a license.

A Montana resident reports a loss of $33 when they thought they were purchasing a fishing license. They state they found the website while doing a Google search for “state fishing licenses.”

BBB suggests consumers follow this advice before purchasing a license online:

Read the fine print. The FishingLicense.Org website does state it is a private company and not affiliated with any government agency, but the warning can be easily missed. Be sure to review all information on a website before making a purchase.

Contact government agencies. To ensure consumers are getting exactly what they pay for, they should contact a state’s department of fish and wildlife or department of licensing before purchasing a license. It’s also wise to research the type of license and costs on these secure, official websites.

Be specific with search. Use keywords such as the state and a specific license type, instead of vague license searches.

Start with trust. Before purchasing online, consumers should also check business profiles at bbb.org/northwest-pacific or on the BBB App to see if a business is accredited, in good standing, and to read consumer reviews and alerts.

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