Tips to avoiding the electronic visa scam

A family member just paid $180 ($US140) for an electronic visa for India. The correct price should be $US50. The week before, I'd been on a similar site that wanted to charge me $220 ($US175) for the same e-visa. India is one country with numerous scam sites offering to facilitate the process of obtaining an electronic visa.

A visa obtained via the US Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) should cost $US14, an e-visa for Turkey should cost $US60, yet visas for either can end up costing $60 to $150 more if you apply via a scam site. The internet has streamlined the process of obtaining a visa. In quite a few cases you can now apply for a country's electronic visa online. In tandem with that initiative, scammers have entered the fray, and it's easy to be fooled. Instead of offering a "service", they add another layer to the visa application process, and charge a hefty fee for doing it. They do not expedite processing, but often slow it down.

There is also the problem that you are giving your credit card information to an agency prepared to scam you for a visa. What's to stop it using that information to commit further larceny? To find out the official electronic visa application website of the country you're planning to visit, go to the website of their embassy or high commission and locate the correct site. If in doubt, call and ask. A phone call will cost a lot less than what you'll pay the visa scammers.