Eric Ollerenshaw column: Beware of websites that hit you in the pocket

Eric Ollerenshaw MP
Eric Ollerenshaw MP

Last week down in London I was pleased to be asked to join a panel for a question and answer Session with international students organised by Lancaster University’s student union .

This was part of a programme of events involving 174 international students from Lancaster University’s overseas partners as part of an annual event organised by the union to help build vital international contacts and networks.

I thoroughly enjoyed my small contribution to the programme and my thanks to Joel Pullan, Charlotte Griffiths and their hard-working team who certainly seemed to have everything under control!

I also managed to get a trip out on Fleetwood’s lifeboat in order to meet the crew of this vital service.

I mention this as a way of thanking everybody in Lancaster who year in and year out makes a contribution to the national lifeboat service collections.

When you meet the men and women who give their own time and risk their own lives to maintain this first-class service then you can certainly be assured this is one of those really good causes and has also helped to ensure the delivery of a brand new boat by 2015.

Recently I have had several constituents complain about the costs of ‘premium rate’ numbers when trying to contact the job centre, tax credits hotline or HMRC (among others). On further investigation I discovered that when you type in ‘Tax Credit Hotline’, for example, into a search engine one of the results you get is on the face of it a number for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. But if you click on the link it takes you to a private company offering various ‘hotlines’ but charging premium call rates.

I have already raised this matter with OFCOM and am awaiting a result of their investigation.

Also, when applying for a passport please make sure you are on the official site for the Passport Office as there are numerous sites that are in fact unofficial private companies who will charge you an extortionate online fee for your application.

The Passport Office does not charge you an additional fee for applying online.