News just in from the Identity and Passport Service, the Government Agency which is responsible for the General Register Office, reports that the Advertising Standards Authority has taken action against third party certificate websites
Identity and Passport Service has warned people ordering birth, death and marriage certificates not to be fooled into paying more through unofficial websites.
The Advertising Standards Authority has now upheld three separate complaints from the Registrar General about third party websites misleading customers into believing that they were ordering from the government’s own website.
The authority warned ‘UK Official Services’, ‘UK GRO Certificates’ and ‘Vital Certificates’ that they were in breach of the Committee of Advertising Practice code and that they must stop appearing or implying that they are the General Register Office.
Customers applying for replacement birth certificates can be charged up to £74.99 for an unofficial ‘express’ online service.
The same express service is £23.40 via the official IPS certificate ordering website through Directgov
www.direct.gov.uk/gro. The standard certificate service is available for even less – £9.25.
Welcoming the news, IPS Chief Executive and Registrar General Sarah Rapson, said:
‘The Advertising Standards Authority has sent a very clear message to customers and those companies that mislead them: there is just one official online certificate ordering service for England and Wales.
‘It is always quicker, cheaper and safer to deal directly with the General Register Office for certificate orders.
‘While other outlets can be found online, there is no reason to pay over the odds and I would urge customers to look at the official site first before ordering anywhere else.’
New number for certificate ordering
IPS has adopted a 0300 prefix for its GRO certificates enquiry number. The prefix 0300 replaces the 0845 prefix used in the previous number.
From 5 January 2012 IPS stopped publishing the 0845 603 7788 number for members of the public who wish to make an enquiry about, or place an order for, certificates. Customers who previously contacted IPS via the 0845 number are now being asked to use 0300 123 1837. This is a particularly memorable number as civil registration was introduced in England and Wales in the year 1837.
0300 numbers are exclusively reserved for charities and the public sector and for the majority of customers the cost of calling us will be reduced. Calls made to 0300 numbers from landlines and mobile phones are charged to customers at their network provider’s national rate and also form part of the inclusive minutes within the customer’s call package in the same way as calls to geographical numbers.