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The Fake EHIC Card Scam

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 7 Jun 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Ehic Website Card Insurance Misleading

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has been forced into taking action against websites who are charging consumers for a service that they can actually obtain free of charge through the NHS website.

What is the European health Insurance Card?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme is a scheme that allows EU citizens to obtain medical care free of charge or in some cases at a local rate if they are visiting other countries that take part in the scheme.

UK residents are entitled to medical treatment when on holiday or visiting another EU country, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Only treatment that you would be able to get under the state scheme for that country is covered, and you need to be able to show your EHIC to be able to get the treatment. It’s not the same as travel insurance though, so the general advice is that even if you have an EHIC, you still need to take out a good travel insurance policy to cover you for all medical eventualities.

What Did the Misleading EHIC Websites Do?

Although it’s free to apply for an EHIC if you use the NHS website, the websites in question decided to set themselves up as official handlers of applications, so that they could charge consumers for simply forwarding the applications through to the NHS. They didn’t make it obvious that the service was usually free of charge, and although they didn’t directly break any laws, the OFT still decided that the way they were going about their business had been calculated into misleading people into making applications through them when they could have used the NHS site for nothing.

There were four websites involved in the OFT clampdown, typically these companies were charging around £10 to process an EHIC application, without making it clear that they were not official EHIC sites. The four sites that the OFT took action against were mainly found to be misleading because they copied the EHIC brand, making it look as though they were actually an official site; used an official sounding URL that people could easily have mistaken for the real thing; didn’t make it clear anywhere on their site that the services they were providing were unofficial.

What Action Has the OFT Taken?

Three of the websites under the OFT spotlight have agreed that they will not use misleading selling practices in the future. These websites are
  • ehic.org
  • thejwsgroup.com/ehicservice and
  • ehic.uk.com.
The fourth website, ehiconline.com has been suspended.

Heather Clayton, Senior Director of the OFT's Consumer Group, said that while it wasn’t actually unlawful to charge consumers for a reviewing and forwarding service, anyone who offers such a service has to be very clear about the product or service they are offering, and not attempt to trick consumers into spending money to get services they don’t need or want.

She added that anyone who wanted to apply for an EHIC or for other government-funded services should check carefully to make sure that they are using an official government website.

How to Apply for an EHIC

If you want to apply for an EHIC free of charge, go to the official NHS EHIC page, where you will be able to download the forms and/or apply online. You will need to have the NHS or National Insurance Number, Surname/Family Name, Forenames and Date of Birth of each person you are applying for a card for.

Alternatively, you can apply for your EHIC by calling 0845 606 2030.

If you are a non-EEA national you will need to apply by post as you’ll need to provide documentation to support your application. You can pick up an application form from the Post Office.

Advertising Standards Authority Ruling on EHIC Direct

On your behalf we complained to the ASA about the EHIC Direct website, which while not acting fraudulenty, did seem to mislead customers into using (and being charged for) their service when the EHIC card could actually be obtained directly at no charge. Other consumers and the NHS Business Services Authority had also complained. The ASA upheld this aspect of the complaint and recommended that EHIC Direct take the following action:

"The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told EHIC Direct to ensure that their website did not create a misleading impression that it was the official NHS website for EHIC applications or that they were affiliated with the official NHS website. The website should make immediately clear the non-official nature of the service on offer and the additional cost of using that service compared to using the official service directly. We also told them to ensure that any qualifications were sufficiently prominent (for example, in conjunction with initial claims or calls to action, such as an application form or ‘Apply Now’ button), so as not to mislead consumers about the nature of their service. Any qualification should be of a clearly visible colour and sufficient size, and presented separately from other information, to ensure it was prominent and would be read by consumers. We also told them to ensure that any claims comparing their services to those of the NHS accurately represented the NHS’ services."

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Clicked on this link from an email thinking I was sure I had recently renewed, got to the end of the form when it asks for payment and thought no way! I’ve never paid for this before so I’ll not be paying now, came off the site, used google, found the correct site and yes it’s free and I don’t need to renew for another 2 years. How do these companies get our information?
Jane - 7-Jun-19 @ 8:46 PM
I've just been scammed for £27, I got an email saying my card was about the expire and to renew it, I wouldn't have bothered but my daughter has a school trip abroad soon so I needed a card for her, so I clicked on it, all looked official, I applied for me and my daughter. Today I received a letter in the name of my ex partner at my address (an address he never even set foot in), so I opened it and inside was a card in his name with wrong date of birth, and a card with my name but daughters date of birth.... Paid £27 for that. Excellent!
Susan - 4-Apr-19 @ 9:23 PM
This happed also to me:/ I used just yesterday this scam service, wasn't sure maybe a some of the low about " free of charged" been changed. My friend informed I used a wrong site... so late evening I send them email I wish to cancel this transaction. I had contact my bank this morning about this situation, and few minutes later I received from scumers nihc email, so they coudn't cancel this because renew applivation process started and they scared me in email if I tried to cancel that payment and contact my bank I will be in troubles:/ finacial troubles, because they won 90% of cases. I'm lost and feeling absolulety out of low. The scumers over the low and people just need to pay for mistakes and using that legally existing organisation. Nobody worried about froud the money.
Aga - 27-Feb-19 @ 1:18 PM
I have just been scammed. The website seemed official. They charged me 24.50 to renew. I only discovered today when Ireceived the card with the NHS covering letter stating it is free !!!!
Ido - 22-Feb-19 @ 10:35 PM
I too have been caught by this scan at the cost of £27.50. The website looks official and is clearly still up and running on the 14/02/19 despite the ruling against it, what can be done if the official power do nothing and how can we possibly stop this happening???
BigAl - 19-Feb-19 @ 6:40 PM
These scams are nothing more than daylight robbery .Advertising Standards Agency should be on this and stamp it out immediately. Piggy backing onto the NHS makes it look legit. I’ve lost £27.50 today on a fraudulent submission, I’ve cancelled the credit card but cannot stop the payment. Once I realised the scam I applied to the official EMIC Govt website and got my card and partners renewed for nothing. I’m a senior citizen and usually wise about scamming but this one is cunning and a nice little earner for the perpetrators. It’s not the amount of money l lost that I’m annoyed about but the complete ease that these crooks can get away with it, for years by the looks of it. Why are the authorities allowing these parasites to continue in this way. As it’s under £100 the police are not interested. Anyone using NHS/NHS umbrellas should be done for fraud. I won’t let this matter rest.
Mike - 5-Jan-19 @ 10:45 PM
If after so many years so many people are being fooled by these websites the Authorities should have dealt with it. Makes you wonder what people have their fingers in this very, very profitable pie. It's money for nothing and therefore if so many people are being fooled it's A Scam! In addition to this, it appears these scammers have information on who and when peoples EHIC cards are up for renewal even though they had not paid for one previously. This entire matter sticks of corruption. Someone is protecting these scammers. Common sense would even tell a complete idiot if so many people are being fooled something is seriously wrong and needs to change. The authorities wont act to stop this injustice because they don't give a toss about YOU and someone is clearly protecting them and not those that have been conned. As previously mentioned : Even a complete idiot can see this is a scam and needs to stop. The Government does not care-Why ?, it's obvious too me.
Aly - 18-Feb-18 @ 6:16 PM
i just fell for the applications@ehic-e111-card.org, my card is due to just expire and i called them back and the person was literally laughing. Tried to stop the payment from Baclays and the only way this could be done that they stopped my cardand reissued me a new one. I still struggling to understand how they knew all my details.
Bev - 14-Feb-18 @ 7:14 AM
I got stung by this scam only last week.I typed in the nhs site on the browser but it took me to a ecosia selection.I stupidly clicked on teh EHIC website thinking it was official.The page seemed official so i only skim read & completed the form.I was surprised when asked for £35 but thought maybe things had changed & it was no longer free.Being nhs (or so i thought) i paid.I expressed my surprise to my husband minutes after paying & he made me realise the scam.I immediately tried to phone the company but after an automated message it hung up.Then, when i emailed i had an email saying i had waived my rights to cancel within 14 days.I DO NOT remember ticking this box.A week has passed.Does anyone have any advice on how to re coop my money?
Vicki - 10-Feb-18 @ 12:11 PM
I had an e-mail from: application@ehic-e111-card.org This organisation was trying to charge me £24.99 to renew my E111 card which is not due for renewal for four months.How did they know that my E111 card was due for renewal soon and how did they know my e-mail address.Is someone in government selling our details?I believe this site should be closed down, it is a scam trying to charge for a service that is free. Richard
why should I - 29-Dec-17 @ 12:35 PM
I also fell for this scam £35 paid for a service that is free. I realised what I had done morales straight away but I was in a hurry as I was going away the next day and realised my current card had expired. The website I used EHIC.org.uk all seemed official and I did not think anything of it. I emailed them straight away to get a refund. The next morning they sent me an email saying unfortunately our records state you already have a valid EHIC card. We'll surely then I would be entitled to a refund. I then wrote back asking for my refund and they said no as they had submitted my application. Please advise me if I can still claim a refund?as they have not provided the service I paid for. When I phoned the bank, the only way to stop It was to cancel my card, a major inconvenience when going away the next day. THESE WEBSITES MUST BE STOPPED THEY ARE STEALING PEOPLE's money.
Ajay - 30-Aug-17 @ 11:41 AM
wally - Your Question:
I was almost caught with the EHIC scam, but the alarm sounded before I paid them £35. I deleted the form but I am worried that they may still have access to my private numbers like NHS , e-mail and home address, and how these might be used in the wrong hands. I was caught out earlier this year when renewing my Driving licence and paid them £65. Hope others will read this and be warned. Please would you let me know if I have cause to worry

Our Response:
Email the company and ask them to delete your data. It's not failsafe and we don't know which website you used but most of these companies are actually processing applications for people for a fee, rather than misusing their information for other purposes. If you get a reminder from them when your EHIC expires...you'll know they haven't deleted your data though.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 22-Aug-17 @ 10:09 AM
I was almost caught with the EHIC scam, but the alarm sounded before I paid them £35 . I deleted the form but I am worried that they may still have access to my private numbers like NHS , e-mail and home address, and how thesemightbe used in the wrong hands. I was caught out earlier this year when renewing my Driving licence and paid them £65. Hope others will read this and be warned. Please would you let me know if I have cause to worry
wally - 18-Aug-17 @ 10:09 PM
Sher - Your Question:
Literally just fallen for this scam. Couldn't remember paying last time and was trying to get it done in a rush. Have emailed them on the contact form to cancel and refund. Will also phone bank first thing in the morning to cancel payment. I feel stupid.

Our Response:
The advertising standards agency has recently upheld the complaints made by us and many other consumers about the nature of the ehic direct website. Please see here for full details of the ruling. We have also included an overview of the ASA recommendations in our article above. That's not much use for you, we know, but hopefully others will no longer have similar issues. We hope you managed to get something back.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 24-Jul-17 @ 12:44 PM
Literally just fallen for this scam. Couldn't remember paying last time and was trying to get it done in a rush. Have emailed them on the contact form to cancel and refund. Will also phone bank first thing in the morning to cancel payment. I feel stupid.
Sher - 23-Jul-17 @ 10:59 PM
I too have just fallen for this scam but this time it's a website called EHIC Applications UK. It's my own stupid fault because they do say several places in small print that you can renew your card free direct from the NHS (I'm usually SO careful!), and they also say that you can cancel within 14 days of the application but there's NO information about how to do this. There's nothing but an email contact form, and a telephone number that refers you back to the website terms and conditions which say nothing about how to cancel, and no way of contacting anyone directly. I have emailed to say I wish to cancel and receive a refund and we'll see what happens, but I'm not holding my breath. Worried about having handed over personal and credit card details...
Duped - 17-Jul-17 @ 6:49 PM
I have indeed been scammed but have only just realised after applying about a month ago.Have got the ehic cards now.What is the best way to deal with this and what should I say to my credit card company?
Conned - 5-Jul-17 @ 9:47 AM
I also feel so stupid, and also angry that this scam has not been stopped. Totally ignore EHIC Direct as they are taking money from unsuspecting customers by suggesting that you need to pay to renew when that is not the case. I discovered that all of the family EHIC'S had expired and in a rush to renew due to impending holiday within the EU knew that they needed to be sorted quickly - if I had not been in a hurry I like to think that I would not have been taken in! Yes there are disclaimers but the website looks official and obviously looking at the comments a lot of people are being confused by that and the suggestion that there is now a charge for this service.
Mug - 24-Jun-17 @ 5:48 PM
Absolute joke!The NHS website actually redirected us to one of the sites that charges £34.50!!!!Will phone bank tomorrow to cancel payment but probably too late now as money already off my card!
Fergie - 20-Jun-17 @ 9:59 PM
I ordered replacement cards for myself and partner as card due to run out 1 day before returning from holiday next week. I fell for the scam as couldn't remember the initial cards being free.I paid the £34.50 fee via credit card, and having just checked, not only did that amount get taken out on 11th June, but another £5 has been taken on 18th. I have emailed to request a full refund and will seek recompense from court of minor claims plus any costs incurred if not refunded within 7 days.Furious!
Mr Blue Sky - 20-Jun-17 @ 9:08 PM
OMG Just fell for this scam!! very sneaky people, got on to the NHS who were brilliant and they also commentedon these ripoff merchants! I called my bank to stop the payment, the fraud people even tried to call their refund line but it doesn't work! I have reported it to the Trading Standards and they are perusing this company! I feel so silly:/
Mick - 15-Jun-17 @ 2:41 PM
I too have just been taken in for this.I thought I did not pay last time but could not remember. Even though this is some sort of scam can I cancel the application? If I do not cancel then do I still receive the card?
AJ - 13-Jun-17 @ 4:01 PM
Fortunately just checked for scam and found this website. Was one click away from paying £19.99 to renew my family cards but something didn't feel right even after I had called them as I had received an unsolicited email reminding me to renew cards that are current until Feb 18. emails and web site ehic-e111-card.org In checking further details website does say not affiliated with NHS and explans they process the applications.
JT - 7-Jun-17 @ 4:44 PM
mike.cohen - Your Question:
My partner wanted to apply for a EHIC renewal and ended up on the website ehicdirct.org.uk. One of their claims is as follows:"In January 2016 the NHS changed the way that applications are processed. There is now a registration process in place when making an application.Please note that the £34.50 charge is per application (2 adults and up to 10 children) and not per person – Please do not use any company that charges for the card itself. Please submit payment information below to complete your application(s)."The impression created is that that this a charge levied by government, though this is of course not what is said. The charge was £34.50, She did not pay, though having registered with them she got an email asking her to complete her application, which she ignored.No one should blame themselves for being taken in: if I hadn't just done my own application (free, via the NHS website) we might have paid up. Why the government allows these spivs to operate is beyond my comprehension: I can't imagine that the legislation banning this fraud would be that difficult to formulate.

Our Response:
It is certainly easy to be taken in by this. We have complained our readers' behalf to the Advertising Standards Agency but we are still waiting for a response.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 6-Jun-17 @ 2:28 PM
My partner wanted to apply for a EHIC renewal and ended up on the website ehicdirct.org.uk. One of their claims is as follows: "In January 2016 the NHS changed the way that applications are processed. There is now a registration process in place when making an application. Please note that the £34.50 charge is per application (2 adults and up to 10 children) and not per person – Please do not use any company that charges for the card itself. Please submit payment information below to complete your application(s)." The impression createdis that that this a charge levied by government, though this is of course not what is said. The charge was £34.50, She did not pay, though having registered with them she got an email asking her to complete her application, which she ignored. No one should blame themselves for being taken in: if I hadn't just done my own application (free, via the NHS website) we might have paid up. Why the government allows these spivs to operate is beyond my comprehension: I can't imagine that the legislation banning this fraud would be that difficult to formulate.
mike.cohen - 4-Jun-17 @ 3:32 PM
BEWARE of a site called ehicdirect.org.uk. It is still active and imposts the NHS site ehic.org.uk. It is an exact copy of the original with all the right words colours and logos, but asks for a one-time application fee of £34.50 by credit card. It's very devious: I got redirected from the NHS site, and they even operate a registration process and send you account actication emails like the NHS site!! So - AS SOON AS YOU SEE A CREDIT CARD ENTRY FORM - DO NOT PROCEED. Ceck out the website address you are on! Exit, clear your PC's cache and start again at NHS choices. Cheers
captain nemo - 2-Jun-17 @ 1:30 PM
I too fell for this scam as the first site I was on I thought was a scam and so I searched again and this second site had the logo and looked realistic and stupidly I put in the detail of my card only to be charged £34-50 for them checking my application.I did try to cancel but it was a futile excercise.Now I see that I have been charged an additional £5 for an i-cloud which I do not want - will this charge be an ongoing charge - now have had to cancel card used etc which just adds to the inconvenience.I do not consider myself to be a stupid person but can't understand how companies/people can get away with stealing off law abiding citizens.
Bairdy - 30-May-17 @ 7:06 PM
I thought i was on the NHS site as it looks so similar. I stupidly added my card details thinking it was for postage. Realizing my mistake at once i tried to phone and cancel, every ext number leads to a voicemail only. Ithen tried to contact on line and every attempt was rejected - could not locate my application. They did however take my payment at once and my credit card company would not cancel as it is a gteed payment card unless the goods fail to arrive. This should not be legal, people are entitled to cancel but this company denies you the means to do so havign duped you into thinking it is the nhs
Elle - 30-May-17 @ 11:41 AM
Hi, I fell for this too - plus they billed me the GBP34.50 twice for one application! Tried calling, just on hold - any suggestions?
Matt - 24-May-17 @ 4:24 PM
Mary - Your Question:
I feel so stupid. I paid £34 for a renewed EHIC card and not only that but they emailed me to confirm the birth dates of my husband and myself and I gave them to them. What can I do? The email they used was 'compliance@ehicdirect.org.uk'I'm very worried now about bank anad identity theft.Mary Birtill

Our Response:
No, while this company is charging people for service that is essentially free via the NHS website, as far as we are aware have not been found guilty of fraud etc so your details are not likely to be compromised.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 15-May-17 @ 2:43 PM
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