ESTA for the USA
ECC Belgium has received various complaints relating to the online sale of ESTAs for the USA. ESTA is an Electronic System for Travel Authorization, an electronic travel permit from the American authorities for travel to the USA.
There are various unofficial websites that offer ESTAs on the internet. They look very professional and are similar to the official site, which means that you could easily be misled. But remember: an ESTA bought from such a website may not be valid and you will often be overcharged: 80 euro or more instead of 14 USD.
What is the official website?
When you search online for a website to purchase an ESTA, the official website of the American authorities is not the first to appear on the list. Unofficial websites offering ESTAs do pop up near the top of the list and as such appear to be official, or reliable. Nothing could be further from the truth.
These websites purposely hide the fact that they are not official. They justify the extortionate cost, which is often hidden in the small print, by stating their service consists of checking your visa application. This service is expensive and an unnecessary link between you and the US authorities.
To be clear: this is the only official website where you can apply for an ESTA.
Overcharged for an ESTA after all?
You can dispute the bill from an unofficial website by reporting that you were duped. However, these websites often state that you pay for their services because they act as an intermediary and there is little chance of you getting your money back.
Did you pay by credit card? If so, try to recoup your money via the charge back-procedure.