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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > February 2020 > Ohioans Alerted to Fake Third-Party License Services

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Ohioans Alerted to Fake Third-Party License Services


Buying a license issued by a state or county should be a safe and easy process, but recent reports allege that third-party websites are posing as official sites, taking money and failing to deliver licenses. What’s more, some of these third-party sites are listed at the top of search engine results because companies can pay to be listed first. These websites look very official, but consumers who take a closer look will find that these sites are not affiliated with the government at all.

Recently, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received complaints against, where people were led to believe they could obtain a fishing license. However, the official site for obtaining a fishing license in Ohio is Consumers report after clicking on the third-party website and paying to receive a fishing license, no license was ever received.

The Franklin County Auditor, who issues official dog licenses in central Ohio, recently warned about another suspicious website,, selling fake licenses; the official site is

At best, these types of websites are bad deals for consumers, who stand to pay inflated prices for the same services they could obtain from the legitimate government office. At worst, consumers may be tricked into applying for licenses through imposter websites, submitting money and personal information, and getting a phony license or nothing in return.

After submitting sensitive information – such as their driver’s license, Social Security and credit card numbers – the third-party companies have the information they need to commit identity theft or resell that information for criminal purposes.

Be sure to follow these tips:

  • Most official government websites have an internet address that ends in “.gov” or “.us.”
  • Understand that many popular search engines accept payment to place search results at the top of the page; this allows private companies to get their product or service among the top search results when consumers enter certain keywords. Those results are typically marked as “sponsored” or “ad.” Scrolling past these results will likely lead to the legitimate license application and information from the proper government agency.
  • Find out what government entity regulates the license you seek. Call the legitimate phone number or go to the official website for that agency to find out how to apply for the license.  
Consumers who suspect an unfair business practice or want help addressing a consumer problem should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.