Some dubious websites are charging people for free health cards and a Which? member fell into the trap. Have you been duped into paying for something which you’re actually entitled to for free?
Which? member Andrew Winterbotham told us:
‘An email told me that my European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) was due to expire, which was true. I clicked through and bought five cards for me and my family, costing £135. I forgot that Ehics are free.
‘The site emailed saying that my card had been declined. It rang me, and I paid by bank transfer. I then had to send a copy of my bank statement to prove I’d paid. Now I see I was duped, where can I turn?’
How to avoid getting scammed
These unofficial sites justify their rip-off charges by claiming to provide a ‘checking’ service that prevents application errors. This is unnecessary, as it’s easily done for free on NHS website ehic.org.uk.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said such sites are ‘totally unacceptable’, adding that it is working with search engines to crack down on them.
It’s concerning that the site now holds your card and account numbers, sort code and other sensitive data, so I asked about its data-retention policies and the ‘phishing’ type email it initially sent, but received no response.
We’d recommend notifying your bank about any data you gave, and ask it to be extra vigilant.
You can also complain to the Advertising Standards Authority and Information Commissioner’s Office, and report the site to Action Fraud. If you’ve paid by bank transfer, you’re unlikely to get your money back, but card payments are often protected.
Have you ever been duped into buying a product or service that you’re really entitled to for free?