The California Department of Fish and Wildlife warns that several unauthorized online websites are improperly charging customers extra fees for online fishing and hunting license purchases and may be collecting sensitive personal information as part of their unauthorized transactions.
“Because CDFW’s license sales offices and some independent license sales agent offices have been temporarily closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19, there has been a surge in online sales over the summer months,” said a release issued by the department. “Unscrupulous website operators and scammers are taking advantage of increased virtual traffic and the public should take extra precautions to ensure they do not fall victim to a scam.”
According to the release, California hunting and fishing licenses may properly be purchased in only one of four ways: online through the CDFW’s Automated License Data System, by calling CDFW’s authorized telephone sales agent at 800-565-1458; through the CDFW license sales office; or through an independent license sales agent authorized by the CDFW, such as local sporting goods store, large discount store or bait and tackle shops.
“Since June 2019, six websites offering unauthorized license sales have been taken down at CDFW’s behest, and an additional two websites are in the process of being disabled,” stated the release.
When making an online purchase, the CDFW recommends that customers check to make sure they are using one of the two CDFW-affiliated links for hunting and fishing license sales, which are www.wildlife.ca.gov and www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales.
The CDFW also warns customers to be cautious when providing personal information to any website because while authorized purchases made through independent license sales agents are subject to an additional five percent handling fee, fraudulent sales websites offer products with shipping and handling fees much higher than the standard rate.
“To date, it appears that the fraudulent activity has been limited to charging customers unauthorized fees,” stated the release. “Licenses that have been mailed to customers after unauthorized transactions may be valid; however, CDFW cannot guarantee that this is or will be true in all cases.”
For more information or to report fraudulent activity, visit ReportFraud@wildlife.ca.gov.
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