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OFT probes dodgy sites that charge for free gov services

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The Office of Fair Trading is investigating dodgy websites that charge punters for government services which are available for free.

Given the crapness of government websites, it often takes some amount of digging before you find what you want. Enterprising conpersons are getting their sites further up the Google rankings and either charge for services available for free, or charge more than the government would do.

Examples include charging for European Health Insurance Cards or charging people for booking theory driving tests.

The OFT said it couldn't name any actual examples while investigations continued. But it said it hoped to take action, if necessary, once its investigation is complete.

Cavendish Elithorn, senior director of the OFT's Goods and Consumer Group, said:

"It is important that companies are clear about the service they are offering, and do not trick people into paying for something that they can get for free or much cheaper on government websites ... With summer holidays approaching, many people will be making applications for EHICs in particular, so we encourage travellers to take time to check that they are using an official government website."

The real site for applying for EHICs is here. ®

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