Home Household appliances Appliance insurance scams are on the rise, which ones? warns

Appliance insurance scams are on the rise, which ones? warns

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A survey of more than 1,300 Which? Members found that almost a quarter had received unexpected calls about appliance insurance or extended warranties in the past year. Photo: Getty

New research has found that cold callers exploit vulnerable people by mis-selling compliance coverage.

Which? found that some victims of these scams have been charged thousands of pounds to insure devices they don’t even own through expensive direct debits.

The survey of more than 1,300 Which? Members found that almost a quarter had received unexpected calls about appliance insurance or extended warranties in the past year.

The consumer group has heard reports of callers lying to victims, telling them their existing coverage expires, even though they don’t have a policy, or calling claiming to be another well-known company. Callers typically have access to personal information that tricks their targets into believing the calls are genuine.

They work by pressure selling invisible and easily forgotten products that require a regular monthly charge. Then they sit back and hope that the £10 or £20 leaving their victim’s account month after month won’t be noticed.

If a direct debit has been set up without your authorization, or if you have been duped, you are entitled to claim all of your money from your bank. Most of the people who reported this to whom? have been refunded, but it can be time-consuming and complicated, the platform said.

A 92-year-old grandmother has paid £10,000 ($13,300) over a two-year period to several companies claiming to provide breakdown cover for her washing machine and boiler – as well as a dishwasher that she does not have.

Although she had a call blocking service with her telephone company, it turned out that she had been harassed by cold callers telling her that she had to renew various policies that she did not have. Believing their lies, she had repeatedly given her bank details.

Her granddaughter shared details of 25 companies who billed her grandmother monthly or repeatedly harassed her with nuisance calls. They claimed to offer all sorts of services, including clogged drain coverage and loyalty programs.

Thanks to direct debit rules and the intervention of her granddaughter, she has been reimbursed most of her money and hopes to have it all by the end of the year.

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Business websites use designs that look surprisingly similar, and many businesses are based or linked to Bournemouth and Poole. Callers tend to use one company name on the phone, while another appears on bank statements – so it’s impossible to tell who’s calling.

Which? reported its findings to National Trading Standards, which is investigating these companies.

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