SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is warning the public that a website that claims to be used to provide fishing licenses for the state is actually a fake - and could steal personal information.
The website itself - listed as "www.georgiafishinglicense.online/" is the first thing many people searching for fishing license information see when they search the phrase "Georgia fishing license" - and for obvious reason. However, the situation is made worse by the fact that whoever created it also bought a Google ad, meaning it shows up before the real site with details about how to get a license.
"During the course of the investigation, it was determined the website was created from outside the United States," the DNR statement warned. "DNR investigators also determined the website requires a customer’s personal information to include name, date of birth, social security number, driver’s license, phone number, email address, and residential address but never asks for payment."
Entering that information puts it in the hands of someone other than a state agency and puts users at risk of identity theft. The process is commonly known as "phishing" or the process of making a website look legitimate to trick users into giving up personal information. By the time the sites are taken down, some of the damage is often already done.
However, more than 24 hours after the DNR first warned of the false website, Google hadn't removed the fake site's ad from the top of the search list - though on some browsers, trying to click on the link brings up a warning that it may not be safe.
The DNR said it has been attempting to get the website shut down and it's requesting anyone who knows of someone who may have provided information to the site to call the DNR Law Enforcement Investigative Unit at 770-918-6408.
"We would also encourage anyone that has provided their personal information on this website to file a police report with their local agency as well as monitoring/freezing their credit," the posting warned.
The DNR released photos of the fake website to help the public identify the fake - which has clearly been designed to mimic the colors and logos of the state website.