I filled an ESTA application. Two days later I received the following email from [email protected]

Dear John Doe,

We kindly ask you to reconfirm your Gender – Male or Female?

Before we can finish processing your application, we kindly ask you to reconfirm your Passport Issuance Date, Expiration Date and Number.

Please open your passport and confirm below.

Passport Issuance Date:




Passport Expiration Date:




Passport Number: –

We will process your application once we receive your response.

Please let us know if you have any questions.


Customer Service Team ESTA USA

www.estausa.org [email protected]

DISCLAIMER: This domain and website is operated by a private company not affiliated with any government agencies, consulates or embassies.

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: Email communication is intended to be viewed only by the listed recipient(s). It may contain information that is privileged and confidential. Any dissemination, distribution or copying of this message is strictly prohibited without our prior written permission. If you are not an intended recipient, or if you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by return e-mail.

This email (and email address) feels very weird to me. I quickly found this post stating that there are fraud websites. Scrolling through my history, I realized that I used the website http://www.esta.us/ and not https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/. I seem to be the victim of a fraud.

I do not quite remember if I paid and what I paid when applying for this ESTA but I guess I paid something. I failed to see any payment on my personal bank account (via my bank website) though.

Am I the victim of a fraud (or legal but unreasonably expensive service)? What would you advise me to go from here?

  • 17
    The answer to "is this legit" is very much in the email itself: DISCLAIMER: This domain and website is operated by a private company not affiliated with any government agencies, consulates or embassies.
    – n_b
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 0:52

2 Answers 2


Thankfully your card hasn't been charged. Do not continue to deal with this service

ONLY use the government site, NOTHING else. Not only are you likely to be charged much more; they may not even submit the application correctly, which could have devastating immigration-related legal consequences for you.

  • 10
    To add to this, they should also immediately cancel/replace the card as the fraudsters could potentially take the amount at any time (the OP said that they can't see any charge on their bank statement so it's safe to assume that the card details have been stored somewhere in plaintext and are extremely vulnerable).
    – AStopher
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 17:02
  • 13
    @cybermonkey If criminals have your card number, then whether they store it encrypted or not is the least of your concerns. Commented May 7, 2017 at 22:20
  • 2
    @smci Can you link to a resource explaining how it's possible to do that? I've never heard of any service allowing private individuals to create these virtual credit card numbers.
    – David Z
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 2:18
  • 1
    Eh, one time CC numbers are everywhere in the EU, North America is decades behind in credit card services but even there for example cardbenefits.citi.com/Products/Virtual-Account-Numbers and bankofamerica.com/privacy/accounts-cards/shopsafe.go
    – user4188
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 7:37
  • 6
    By the way, the US government-looking seal in the top-left of ESTA.us's webpage makes them reportable to the FBI for pretending to be a govt agency (note tiny disclaimer at bottom of screen). Report them now: ic3.gov/crimeschemes.aspx
    – smci
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 8:24

To add to the other answer, of course it is fake (edit: see jpatokal's comment) this company may not be fake, but I would immediately cancel all business with them. They seem to act as an unneccessary (hence too expensive) intermediary, but a lot of things they do indicate either an unreliable company or a scam. There are just too many red flags:

  1. You visited domain esta.us and received mail from estausa.org.

  2. Read their terms and conditions:

ESTA.us specializes in the Visa Waiver Program and Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

specializes in instead of handles

ESTA.us cannot warrant the information. ESTA.us provides the text on this website for information purposes only.

So much for guarantees....

The Application Guide offered for sale on this website ....

So that is what they (also) do: they sell some info.
That does not necessarily exclude that they would handle ESTA applications, but then why don't they say anything about that?

  1. And then this one from the privacy policy is a gem:

ESTA.us uses servers located in the United Kingdom.

Sure, for a supposedly US service/company...

  1. There is much more on the site to show you you should be suspicious. They actually say that they just want your money on this page:

We specialize in processing, updating and verification of eVisa applications on behalf of travelers. We charge a processing fee of $ 37.00 per application. It is optional to use our professional service, and you have the choice of reviewing your own application without our help directly with the government at: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov.

  1. And did you notice that that page is suddenly on another domain (estausa.com), even with different terms and conditions?
    This is almost a joke.
  • And DISCLAIMER: This domain and website is operated by a private company not affiliated with any government agencies, consulates or embassies. Commented May 8, 2017 at 16:05
  • 2
    It's not "fake", because they'll get you an actual visa. But it's a company proxying the requests and charging a steep, pointless fee for it. Commented May 8, 2017 at 21:55

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .