Websites’ scam deals probed

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THE Office of Fair Trading is investigating scam websites selling government services which are free.

THE Office of Fair Trading is investigating scam websites selling government services which are free.

The consumer watchdog said it will be looking at sites which charge for services which are free elsewhere, such as booking a driving theory test or a European Health Insurance Card.

Last year it took action against several online traders for deceptively selling the cards which provide UK residents with cheap or free healthcare in the European Union.

Consumers can get them free, but the OFT found some online traders were charging £10 per application and did not make it clear they were not the official NHS site.

Cavendish Elithorn, senior director of the OFT’s goods and consumer group, said: “We will be considering whether any of the sites under investigation are misleading consumers.

“It’s important companies are clear about the service they are offering and do not trick people into paying for something they can get for free or much cheaper on government websites.”

It expects to publish the results of its findings later this year.

In April Action Desk warned of websites which claimed to list Government helpline numbers, but the lines were premium rate.

It came after two companies were fined £50,000 each for failing to make the price of calling premium rate numbers clear.