Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific has seen a rise 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 is, in fact, 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 received 26 complaints, with 14 reported in the last year.
Consumers claim 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 offer verbiage stating the consumer is purchasing an informational guide, however, the site is set up to appear as if visitors are actually purchasing a license.
Since more than 140 million Americans are involved in outdoor activities, BBB suggests consumers follow this advice before purchasing a license online:
* Read the fine print. The website does state that it is a private company and not affiliated with any government agency, but the warning can be easily missed. Be sure to review all the information on a website before making a purchase.
* Contact government agencies. To make sure consumers are getting exactly what they pay for, they should contact the state’s department of fish & 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.
* Specify the online search. Consumers are easily drawn to click on these two websites since they have high rankings on online searches. BBB advises using keywords such as the consumer’s 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 read consumer reviews and alerts.
Anyone who believes they may be a victim of a scam can report it to BBB. For more trustworthy tips on online purchases, visit bbb.org/shoppingonline/.