Drivers warned over fake parking apps

New research from the consumers’ association Which? has highlighted that drivers are falling victim to fake parking apps being advertised on search engines.

The RAC says that, as a result, the public are being urged to avoid Google, Yahoo and Bing search engines when attempting to download parking apps.

The false ads attempt to trick drivers into paying for expensive subscriptions they don’t want or need when looking to park.

In order to avoid any issues, the RAC says it is important for all drivers to download apps from the official Apple or Google Play app stores.

Which? stated that similar tactics from fraudsters have historically been used to get drivers to give their card details to fake third-party websites instead of Transport for London to pay ULEZ charges.

There are many apps available to download from the stores on mobile devices, but the scammers have created fake adverts using their branding and messaging. They then appear at the top of the searches, creating the platform to take money from drivers.

The motorist club adds the challenge for the real parking companies is that after the scammers get their website shut down, they start a similar one with a new domain – and the issue repeats itself.

Many of the fake adverts claim to offer a ‘free download’ but then hide identical small print at the bottom of their websites revealing high monthly fees charges to an unnamed company.

Which? says Google and the other search engines continue to display these false advertisements when someone looks to pay for parking online – despite it contacting them weeks before releasing their report.

The research from Which? found that there were a higher number of fake adverts on Google compared to its competitors.

In response, Google said it removes adverts that violate its policies and that under its misrepresentation policy, it doesn’t allow ads that deceive users by excluding relevant product information or providing misleading information.

Google and the other search engines – along with social media giant Meta – will be legally obliged to remove scams and other harmful content under the new Online Safety Act.

People searching for a parking app on Google are urged that if they come across a fake advert, to report it to the Advertising Standards Authority.

(Picture – RAC)


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