We take out insurance to protect ourselves in case the worst happens. Criminals understand this – and they try to use this to their advantage.
Some legitimate companies use cold calling or social media to advertise their products and services to potential customers. But the problem is criminals do this too.
A genuine business may try to contact you using details they’ve obtained legally. But criminals often use data that’s either been stolen or simply wasn’t meant to be used in this way.
So how do you tell the real companies from the fraudsters?
Here’s what to listen out for
Criminals often kick off their scams in similar ways, using common techniques. So we’ve put together a few phrases they may use and ideas they might suggest to get you to act.
This certainly isn’t the full list – but if you hear or see anything like this, you should have your guard up.
“It’s time to review your policy”
You may get an unexpected call or see an advert pop up as you’re on social media encouraging you to review your policy. Criminals often target those with protection or life insurance policies.
The fraudsters will claim they’re from a reputable insurance company or that they’ve been asked to do this by the regulators – all in a bid to gain your trust. They may offer lower premiums for the same cover. Beware – it’s a scam. Because to offer you a lower premium, they’d usually have to reduce your cover, but they don’t mention this.
If you're interested in getting a lower premium or taking out a new policy, look around for yourself – and don’t be forced into anything by unexpected phone calls from strangers.
“You’ve been in an accident”
Motor accident claims are another common technique criminals use to draw you in.
The callers usually claim that you may be entitled to compensation for that car accident you had. Although there are legitimate companies out there making these sorts of calls, unfortunately scammers use this tactic too. And they’re using people’s heightened concern for their money during this time to encourage them into making fake whiplash claims.
If you've been in an accident, don’t share your details with anyone who contacts you unexpectedly. Instead, get in touch with your own insurance company to speak to them about it.
And if you have suspicions that the insurance you’ve taken out isn’t real, check your car’s properly insured on the Motor Insurance Database website.
“Want cover at an ultra-low price?”
It’s important to be able to spot a good deal from a fake one. And if a policy sounds too good to be true, it’s probably just that.
Known as ghost policies, these make-believe policies are set up by fraudsters to entice you into buying them. In 2019, we found over 4,000 instances of policy fraud that were linked to ghost policies 1.
Criminals can make these bogus products look like the real thing (even providing you with seemingly genuine policy documents) – but they’re far from it. They won’t protect you, nor a third party, in any way.
So if you want to take out insurance, be sure to speak to a legitimate insurance company you’ve looked into yourself.
Don’t let criminals delve into your details
Criminals using these tactics are clever. They know what to say and do. So unfortunately, people do fall victim to their scams. And once they’ve got some of your details, they can keep collecting more.
Next time, they might try to encourage you to put your money into an ISA, supposedly with lots of interest. Or they’ll persuade you to transfer your hard-earned pension over to them.
To stop yourself becoming a victim, think twice if something looks or sounds wrong and don’t share your details.
Be wary of calls from mobile numbers or unsolicited messages on social media claiming to be legitimate businesses – real insurance companies wouldn’t contact you in these ways. You can also check whether the company who’s contacted you is registered and regulated on the FCA’s Financial Services Register.
Your personal data is one of your most prized possessions. And like the rest of your belongings, you don’t want it getting into the wrong hands.