Some unauthorized websites are charging extra fees and collecting sensitive personal information, state officials warn.
STATEWIDE—California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife has issued a warning, on July 8: anglers and hunters should beware of websites selling fishing and hunting licenses at higher prices. These unauthorized transactions also collect sensitive personal information.
Anglers are reminded licenses are available for sale through one of four means: at a Department of Fish and Wildlife license sales office; independent sales agent such as a local sporting goods store, large discount store or bait and tackle shop; Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Automated License Data System, or ALDS; or, over the telephone, via the department’s authorized sales agent. Call 800-565-1459 for telephone sales.
“The ALDS, which is CDFW’s exclusive means of online license sales, was launched in 2011,” Department of Fish and Wildlife staff stated. “ALDS can be accessed via CDFW’s website or by clicking the link that is frequently provided in official communications from the department.
“When making an online purchase, please check the URL of the site you are visiting to ensure you are on the official CDFW website (www.wildlife.ca.gov) or the ALDS website (www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales),” Department of Fish and Wildlife staff continued. “These are the only CDFW-affiliated links for hunting and fishing license sales.”
The department’s staff added there are several unofficial websites out there, presenting themselves as California Department of Fish and Wildlife, or CDFW. These websites often provide information about fishing licenses and don’t always come up at the top of Google or other search engine results.
“Please be cautious when providing personal information to any website. While authorized purchases made through independent license sales agents and ALDS are subject to an additional 5 percent handling fee, the fraudulent sales websites offer products for sale with ‘shipping and handling fees’ that are much higher than 5 percent of the base purchase price,” Department of Fish and Wildlife staff stated.
“To date, it appears that the fraudulent activity has been limited to charging customers unauthorized fees,” Department of Fish and Wildlife staff continued. “Licenses that have been mailed to customers after unauthorized transactions may be valid; however, CDFW cannot guarantee that this is or will be true in all cases.”
Do you believe you were defrauded by an unauthorized website? Would you like to double check whether one of your previous purchases was indeed valid? Reach out to the Department of Fish and Wildlife at ReportFraud@wildlife.ca.gov and, in your message, describe your experience and provide as much relevant information as possible.