If you have ever wondered how Google is able to make so much money each year, this letter offers a part explanation. The website is happy to accept and make income from adverts from companies which take advantage of the unwary.
For example, type "Ehic card" into Google and several companies will appear at the top of the listing – in the paid-for ads box. These official-looking sites prey on those who don't know better by charging a fee (typically ?14.99) to process their application for a European health card.
But the truth is that Ehic cards are issued free for UK citizens. The official government site is further down the Google page. What the other sites are doing is getting consumers to pay for a service that is free. It's perfectly legal.
The Passport Application Service works in a similar way. At the top of the website it says: "Welcome to the UK Passport application assistance service which assists you with an online passport application service through the official Identity and Passport Service (IPS). Our service helps individuals who are entitled to complete a passport application online, to do so correctly."
It doesn't claim to be the official passport site. Its fee of ?24 is for checking your application has been filled out correctly. Nice work it you can get it, although they have to buy the expensive Google ads to enable this to operate.