Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Oregon anglers, hunters warned of phony license online scam

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For Oregon consumers looking to hunt and/or fish this season, be careful when purchasing licenses as Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific has learned of an ongoing online scam publishing phony licenses.

Oregon Department Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) contacted BBB to share that its employees have been made aware of at least two people who recently purchased items from the website www.fishinglicense.org after searching online for an Oregon fishing license. BBB has also confirmed two Oregonians filed a complaint and Scam Tracker report against fishinglicense.org within the last month.

This is not the first time BBB has alerted consumers to this website, but the page is still up and running. ODFW and other state fish and wildlife agencies have been hearing about customers mistakenly buying items from this website since 2017.

“While it’s not a widespread problem, it’s unfortunate that even one person would be misled when trying to buy an Oregon fishing license,” ODFW License Services Manager Linda Lytle said. “This is not the first time we have heard about this and it isn’t just happening in Oregon.”

Fishinglicense.org, which claims to operate out of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, has no office. The company operates under the umbrella organization, “Orange Grove LLC”, which claims to help consumers with a variety of services including travel planning, registrations and drivers’ licenses.

Within the last year, there have been 20 complaints regarding the company mostly related to false adverting and fraudulent sales. There have also been numerous negative reviews left on the company’s BBB profile, which has garnered an F-rating. It appears representatives for fishinglicense.org have been responding to some of the recent complaints, though BBB cannot confirm at this time whether any refunds have been issued.

BBB cautions consumers not to use any websites associated with Orange Grove LLC, including fishinglicense.org or driverslicenseonline.org. This issue has been brought to the attention of the Federal Trade Commission.

Oregon fishing or hunting licenses can be purchased via the ODFW landing page. Consumers can also purchase a license at one of the sale agents listed on the site. On the website, Oregonians will be guided to the proper licensing processes and procedures for fishing, crabbing, bird hunting and big-game hunting.

For consumers who have purchased a fake license somewhere else, head to the ODFW website for help. For hunters, please note the deadline to apply for a valid license is June 1.

For ODFW, combating this issue is imperative to protect consumers from losing money and to prevent them from going out with improper licenses, which can lead to further problems.

“We would just like consumers to be aware of this issue and not get tricked into buying something when what they really want is an Oregon fishing, hunting or shellfish license,” said Lytle.

BBB NW+P offers the following tips for consumers to protect themselves from online scams:

  • Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, its URL should start with “https://” and include a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page
  • Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections; it’s easier to dispute charges. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit card.
  • Think before your click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites that bring you to a website. Many sketchy retailers can easily “spoof” an existing website to appear legitimate, when really, it’s a fake page all together.

 ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. In 2017, people turned to BBB more than 160 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including BBB Northwest & Pacific, which serves more than 15 million consumers in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Hawaii and Western Wyoming.

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