THOUSANDS of anglers have purchased overpriced rod licences from third-party websites, which has led the Environment Agency to issue another warning.

The Environment Agency can’t provide an exact number who have paid more than necessary but regards 10,000 anglers as a reasonable estimate for 2017-18.

Some have paid as much as double the correct price and others have had to wait longer than they should to receive the licence.

Kevin Austin, deputy director of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Natural Environment said: “These websites are not endorsed by the Environment Agency and for complete peace of mind, make sure you visit GOV.UK to buy your fishing licence.

“Money from fishing licences is used when we respond to fish kills, improving habitats for fish and facilities for anglers; plus fish restocking, invasive species eradication and working with partners to encourage people to take up fishing for the first time.

“When customers purchase from GOV.UK they’ll receive a reference number allowing them to go fishing immediately.

“Customers who use third party sites may not get this number immediately and will be considered to be fishing illegally if they go without a valid reference number or licence.

To purchase a licence always use the official link at: www.gov.uk/fishing-licences

Alternatively, you can call on 0344 800 5386 or visit your local Post Office branch.

One Angler’s Mail reader Alan Oakley has warned of the dangers when he paid an extra £15 as a ‘service charge’ to a rogue website and then never received it.

Birmingham-based Alan said: “I was charged £45, and didn’t even receive confirmation, no receipt, and then it never even came.

“Finally my own bank repaid me the money and could go to the Post Office and get my correct licence but that was two months later.”

The Environment Agency are powerless to shut these rogue websites down as they aren’t doing anything illegal. They are just adding a surcharge on for their ‘service’.

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