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TfL and Google crack down on misleading Congestion Charge sites

The move follows TfL’s warning last month that drivers should make sure they are using the official London Congestion Charge website following an Adverting Standards Agency ruling that one site – paylondoncongestion.co.uk – was misleading customers.

According to TfL, around 1,000 people per day have been paying up to £8 extra for "additional services" that are either non-existent or are already provided by TfL's official payment channel for free. 

As a result, Google is using this guidance to take action against those who breach its strict “sale of free items” policy.

There have also been a number of cases where these unofficial sites have failed to pay the Congestion Charge on behalf of their customers, resulting in drivers receiving a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) from TfL for non-payment of the Congestion Charge.

Some of these unofficial sites have also accepted payments from customers when the congestion charge has not been in operation.

Theo Bertram, Head of Policy, Google UK, said: `We have always had a strict set of policies which govern what types of ads appear on Google and when we are notified that an advertiser is breaching those policies, we move swiftly to take action.

`Thanks to the further guidance provided by TfL, it is now easier to ensure London's motorists are protected from misleading sites.'

Garrett Emmerson, TfL's chief operating officer for surface transport, added: `We will keep the situation under continuous review and are also urgently examining other ways in which we can protect our customers from unofficial sites.

`Our advice remains that customers should only ever use our official website to pay the Congestion Charge.'

By paying via the official TfL website, customers will avoid any unnecessary charges imposed by unofficial websites and will remove the risk of receiving a PCN. 

Customers can avoid paying via unofficial websites by registering with TfL for the automatic payment service, CC Auto Pay, which also offers the benefit of a reduced daily charge. 

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.