Home > Holidays > The Fake EHIC Card Scam

The Fake EHIC Card Scam

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 30 Aug 2017 | 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."

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
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
I cannot believe I fell for this either. I sent a email because I haven't received them within the 10 days and got a automated response with a link which says if you haven't received the cards within 2 weeks ring NHS 0300 330 150.My contract was with them not the NHS so I've disputed it with my bank.I've gone on the official NHS site to apply but it says I already hold a card that hasn't expired.I will try NHS when they are open. Cancelled my card and my online banking has been frozen. Not taking any more chances.
Fumming! - 23-Jun-17 @ 6:26 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
I too paid £34.50 only to discover it is a free service. That Was on Friday evening and when I telephoned the NHS line this morning (Monday) the girl there processed my cards immediately and advised me that EHIC Direct hadn't begun my application at all. She advised me to contact them. I tried to phone but was on hold permanently. I e mailed and also filed in a cancellation request form. I was immediately assured by the company that my money will be back in my account within 5 days. Perhaps Doctors' surgeries, hospitals, tv etc should highlight that these cards are free on the NHS website. Taking money for it is a real scam. How about "Rip Off Britain" ?
Dimples - 15-May-17 @ 11:26 AM
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 - 12-May-17 @ 11:02 AM
ali - Your Question:
I thought I was fortunate enough to spot this site as fraudulent because in the back of my mind I knew that the ehic card was free. However, I had already got to the stage of filling in my bank details ready for payment. When I had the light bulb moment I quickly deleted all the details and did not pay. Unfortunately from this my bank details were compromised and £300 was taken from my account in 3 separate transactions within 4 minutes. NEVER USE THIS SITE AND CHECK YOUR BANK STATEMENTS CAREFULLY- YOU COULD LOSE MORE THAN THE £35!!!!

Our Response:
Tell the police about this...it is fraud rather than the usual practice for EHIC sites, of a charging for service that is actually free.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 9-May-17 @ 1:58 PM
i thought i was fortunate enough to spot this site as fraudulent because in the back of my mind i knew that the ehic card was free. However, I had already got to the stage of filling in my bank details ready for payment. When I had the light bulb moment I quickly deleted all the details and did not pay. Unfortunately from this my bank details were compromised and £300 was taken from my account in 3 separate transactions within 4 minutes. NEVER USE THIS SITE AND CHECK YOUR BANK STATEMENTS CAREFULLY- YOU COULD LOSE MORE THAN THE £35!!!!
ali - 8-May-17 @ 11:38 AM
I paid £34.50 twice for myself and my son through EHIC Direct who claimed that the service is no longer free due to changes in NHS law from January 2017.this was stated ontheir website. After receiving my cards not only was i charged this amount on my cc bill they additionally charged my £5 twicefor 'cloud' which I had no knowledge of.In addition it was a recuring charge!!!!! I have had to cancel this with the CC company and ask for a new redit card.I was misled, duped and can do nothing about it.When you(try to) contact Ehic direct they dont have your details and ther helpline is automated. Someone should look int this fraudulant behaviour. I hope the EHIC card is valid!
Very pissed of perso - 5-May-17 @ 11:19 AM
My wife spent £35 on one of these websites. How is it that they are not made to say that you can apply for free on your own and that they are not part of the NHS? Why isn't the real website at the top as it probably has the most hits? Stan
Stan - 29-Apr-17 @ 11:57 AM
Hi, I too have fallen for this sites apparent authenticity and handed over £34 , only to discover that it is not an official site. When trying to immediately cancel my application the sites telephone service keeps you on hold for some time then advises you that the service is down for repair. The helpline advised that the office was closed, although it was mid morning on Monday 24th April and invited me to leave a message after the tone, but the line goes dead before you can do so. The automated on line cancellation process merely responds to tel, you that it cannot locate your application despite me filling in all the fields correctly and repeatedly submitting. Effectively the company prevent applicants contacting them to cancel the application. I have alerted my bank who will in due course dispute the payment. This kind of thing should no be permitted as it makes a mockery of advertising standards and reasonable standards of business conduct to effectively entrap unwary members of the public. It appears despite continued complaints the Company is allowed to continue in operation when there should be no demand for such a service, if there was it should be transparent about its role and storage of personal data and have adequatecommunication processes and safeguards in place for cancelling an application.
Older but no wiser - 25-Apr-17 @ 5:31 PM
I submitted my neighbour's details, not realising it was a scam until the payment screen appeared.How can I sure that this information won't be used or passed on to a 3rd party?
Mary - 22-Apr-17 @ 7:32 AM
B - Your Question:
Sorry for duplicate entry - refreshed my browser.Anyway, from their Terms of Service (which I had agreed to) , specifically;###################################4.1 After placing an order and completing your account creation, you will receive an email from us acknowledging that we have opened your cloud account. This is our acceptance of your offer to use our Services.4.2 The Contract is formed following our acceptance in accordance with condition 4.1 and your payment in accordance with condition 8. Until both payment is made and our acceptance is given, no contract has been formed.###################################On this I have spoken to my Credit Card provider and they have advised that payments do not get approved for 48-72 hours. On the basis of this I will be speaking to the relevant department when they open and ask about stopping the payment - and I hope prevent any contract from being formed..Note: In an e-Mail I received from them they state "This email is to inform you that your application has now been assigned to a member of our team and the checking of your application has already begun as of 20/04/2017 at . ".Not certain if this is some attempt of bluff / to tie-me-in as (in addition to their not yet being any contract) further from their Terms of Service the following states they only process between certain hours (which I only agreed to them doing) - so guessing if I send them notification before that time then they should not do anything###################################7.2 We are available to provide our Services from Monday to Sunday (excluding bank holidays) between the hours of 9am to 5.30pm. Should we receive any queries outside of our working hours such order will be dealt with on the next working day.###################################All a bit of a guess though.

Our Response:
Good work! Keep us posted.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 21-Apr-17 @ 10:41 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • ConsumerRightsExpert
    Re: Dealing With Cowboy Builders
    Paulio - Your Question:Back in 2010 we had a loft conversion done, by what looked like a reputable company who were local and had…
    20 October 2017
  • Unhappy
    Re: When Am I Not Entitled to a Refund?
    With reference to my previous comment, no it was not made to measure. The website offers items made to order in set sizes…
    20 October 2017
  • ConsumerRightsExpert
    Re: When Am I Not Entitled to a Refund?
    Unhappy - Your Question:On 1st September I ordered some handmade clothes for my baby. They arrived on 19th October…
    20 October 2017
  • Unhappy
    Re: When Am I Not Entitled to a Refund?
    On 1st September I ordered some handmade clothes for my baby. They arrived on 19th October (website states 4-6 week…
    20 October 2017
  • amyamyamy
    Re: Dealing With Cowboy Builders
    Dean blues. Must the the UK's most dangerous and prolific cowboy builder. Joi the facebook group against him and help stop this…
    20 October 2017
  • Russo
    Re: What If Your Plumber Makes Mistakes?
    Had a new shower tray fitted on 9 November 2016 and last week a crack appeared In the tray running from the door towards…
    19 October 2017
  • Kellywalsh
    Re: Buying a Used Car: Your Rights
    I bough 11 c4 7 seater 10 months ago paid 13900 he gear box and fly wheel has gone do i have any come back ?
    18 October 2017
  • Paulio
    Re: Dealing With Cowboy Builders
    Back in 2010 we had a loft conversion done, by what looked like a reputable company who were local and had excellent reviews…
    18 October 2017
  • Sally
    Re: The Structure Warranty on My Sofa?
    DFS have come to my house so times the leather was patchy so they couloured it in finally they recovered the seats on my 2…
    18 October 2017
  • ConsumerRightsExpert
    Re: What If Your Plumber Makes Mistakes?
    Sam - Your Question:Hi. We have received a water bill from Thames water for £12k and been informed by them that there is…
    18 October 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ConsumerRightsExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.