Protect Yourself Against this US Visa Scam
Maybe you’ve taken all the offers the FiftyUp Club has sent your way and you have now saved money for that dream holiday abroad.
But if you’ve set your sights on the glamour of Hollywood or the hustle and bustle of New York City, be aware of this one scam that could charge you SEVEN TIMES more than it should!
If you are travelling to the US, you are required to get an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). It’s a visa waiver required for entry into the US.
The cost for the visa is $14USD through the US Customs and Border Protection website.
Though avoiding this scam seems like a no brainer, most travellers will Google what they need. If you Google “ESTA” or “travel visa to US”, you will be provided with at least 4 ads on ESTA applications and a slew of websites that offer the same. Those are 3rd party sources that send the information to the US Customs and Border Protection website. Most have an application fee of at least $99USD.
When you apply for the visa through the US Customs and Border Protection website there is only one fee: $14USD.
That is the only fee you need to pay. If you are on a site and it’s asking you to pay more than $14USD, close the browser now.
I NEED AN ESTA
If you need to apply for an ESTA, the correct US Customs and Border Protection site is esta.cbp.dhs.gov. Any other website, whether it ends with .com, .org, .us, or .esta is not official.
I HAVE ALREADY APPLIED FOR AN ESTA ON A SCAM SITE
If you have already applied through a ESTA scam website, contact your bank for help as soon as you realise and and ask them to stop the transaction. Trying to stop the payment can lead to a declined ESTA if the scam site has already applied on your behalf. If you have used a 3rd party site and have received an ESTA, the US Customs and Border Protection website asks travellers to contact them to make sure the ESTA you have paid for is legitimate.
BE A SMART TRAVELLER
Whether you’re travelling to the US or elsewhere, check in with SmartTraveller. The site is run by the Australian government and can give you information and tips on where you’re going, what visa(s) are needed and more.
Be smart and travel safe!