July 15, 2011

OFT investigates sites selling services available for free

by Jan Harris

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is cracking down on sites that take advantage of consumers’ lack of knowledge.

The number of websites which mislead consumers by selling services that are freely available from the government is increasing.

The OFT is also concerned about sites which charge excessive fees for services that are available from official sites at a much cheaper rate.

Last year the OFT closed four websites charging for European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs), which are freely available from an official NHS site.

It has now re-launched its investigations following complaints from consumers, as well as from government departments such as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the Department of Health.

In a related piece of news, the UK Government Web Archive, which was launched in 2003, has now passed the one billion visitor target.

The site, which is one of the most-visited government websites, is being relaunched this week following a makeover.

It offers access to data from 2,000 government websites dating back to 1997.

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