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Bengaluru: Passport offices alerts public against fake websites


Bengaluru: Passport offices throughout the country are apprehensive about the increase in fake websites that masquerade as official portals for passport related services and siphon off applicant's data and money.

The ministry has been issuing advisories and alerts on its social media handles to caution the public against such fraudulent websites. The crime branch, working with the ministry has also started awareness drives in order to prevent passport applicants from being duped by bogus.

 The fake websites that the offices caught were-
 www.indiapassport.org,
 www.online-passportindia.com,
 www.passport-seva.in,
 www.passport-india.in,
 www.passportindiaporlal.in and www.applypassport.org. (Sc.TOI)

Whereas, the official website to apply for a passport is- "www.passportindia.gov.in" and the official mobile application to avail passport related services is - "mPassport Seva".

Victims who were cheated by these bogus websites and mobile applications approached the passport office and filed complaint at the local police station, said Officials at the Regional Passport Office, Bengaluru. Not only websites but mobile applications and brokers outside the passport offices also demand more payment and could be stealing personal data like Adhaar Card, Voter Id, resident proof and birth certificate to partake in more serious crimes like identity theft or selling the data to immigrants.

The officials said they came across websites that charged unwarranted prices for filling up online forms for a new passport and other services and even people who were highly educated fell victim to the fraud. Where the real cost for a passport is Rs.1,500 for normal and Rs.3, 500 for tatkal, these fraudsters are charging from Rs. 4,500 to Rs. 6,000. And money is the lighter concern, the bigger threat is the theft of personal data like Adhar Number, Voter ID and phone connections.

These websites used logos of other government schemes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to appear more genuine and true. Even on Google Play Store, at least eight unauthenticated and false applications were found.

This problem is not centrist to Karnataka, as cases from all over the country have been popping up, for instance, NCR and Bhuvaneshwar being two of the areas. Bharath Kumar Kuthati, regional passport officer, Bengaluru, says "they are creating awareness by issuing warnings on social media. It is a pan-India problem and the department is taking steps to counter it."