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Pa. warns of scam licensing sites for hunters, anglers that could steal money, personal information

Pennsylvania is warning that some hunters, anglers, and trappers have been lured to fake license purchasing websites.

File: Anglers along the FDR Park Boathouse in South Philadelphia, Oct. 04, 2019.
File: Anglers along the FDR Park Boathouse in South Philadelphia, Oct. 04, 2019.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

Pennsylvania officials are warning hunters, trappers, and anglers to beware of scam websites that offer licenses, sometimes for up to $50, and take not only the money but personal information that could be used for identity or financial theft.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Pennsylvania Game Commission say there are only two ways to purchase a license: Through the state-run portal called the Outdoor Shop or in person from a retail license issuing agent.

“If you choose to use a third-party website offering to sell you a fishing license, you risk wasting your money and putting your personal information at risk,” said Bernie Matscavage, director of the Fish and Boat Commission Bureau of Administration.

The Game Commission received reports that hunters and trappers who tried to purchase their licenses online through unaffiliated vendors never received them.

The fake websites mimic the look of the Outdoor Shop. In fact, at least one used a logo crafted to closely resemble that of the PFBC, offering to “broker” or “simplify” the purchase of a fishing license for an added fee, bringing the cost to $50. It also requested Social Security numbers and credit card information.

The customers were told they would receive an electronic license within 72 hours, but they never received them.

“There is absolutely no advantage to using a third-party website to buy a license,” said Matscavage. “The difference is that by using a third-party site, you are paying an unnecessary added fee, compromising your identity, and will likely not end up receiving a license at all.”

An official hunting or trapping license costs $20.90 for Pennsylvania residents. A fishing license costs $22.90 through the official site.

Anglers purchasing a PFBC license through the Outdoor Shop immediately receives a printable version. Hunters or trappers purchasing a license online get a confirmation email from the Game Commission and the license is mailed within two weeks.

State officials are asking anyone who finds a suspicious website that does not link to the state site to call the PFBC at 877-707-4085 or game commission at 717-787-2084. Victims of a scam site should notify the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office by completing a Scams Complaint Form.