Money Wellness
Image of a man inside a car with a mobile phone mounted on the dash board selecting a parking app
category iconbills
calendar icon12 Dec 2023

Motorists warned about dangers of searching for parking apps - don't get caught out!

Which? says scammers are using adverts on Google and other search engines to trick drivers into downloading and paying for apps they don’t want or need.

The consumer champion is urging people not to use search engines at all when they’re trying to pay for parking online. It has instead advised that apps should only be downloaded from the official Apple or Google Play app store to avoid being ripped off.

It says it has seen adverts impersonating JustPark, PayByPhone and RingGo all advertising on Google in the last week. The adverts appeared at the top of search results on a mobile phone and above the genuine website for these companies.

These adverts link to other sites including onlytelephone.com and homeautomationinnovators.com, which claim to offer a free download but hide identical small print at the bottom of their websites revealing charges of £24.99 a month, which goes to an unnamed company for a ‘health and lifestyle bundle subscription.’

Which? spoke to PayByPhone who confirmed that these adverts have nothing to do with them. The company said it has previously reported fake adverts, but scammers simply buy a new domain and start again.

Which? first warned Google about the problem in November and were told the search engine would take action, yet the adverts were still there three weeks later.

Which? found more examples of dodgy parking adverts on Google than any other search engine but warned rogue advertising is everywhere.

They found the same advert on both Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing.

Yahoo Search adds said it is working with Microsoft Bing to block the adverts.

Online platforms are legally obliged to remove scam ads and other harmful content under the new Online Safety Act.

If you spot misleading or fake adverts, you should report them to the relevant platform, such as Google, Yahoo or Bing, as well as the Advertising Standards Authority.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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