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Household appliances insurance scams on the rise, Which? warns

·2-min read
Household appliances insurance scams on the rise, Which? warns
A survey of more than 1,300 Which? members found that almost a quarter received unexpected calls about home appliance insurance or extended warranties within the last year. Photo: Getty

New research has found that cold callers are exploiting the vulnerable by mis-selling compliance cover. 

Which? found that some victims of these scams were charged thousands of pounds to insure appliances they don't even own through costly direct debits.

The survey of more than 1,300 Which? members found that almost a quarter received unexpected calls about home appliance insurance or extended warranties within the last year.

The consumer group heard reports that callers lie to victims, telling them their existing cover is expiring, even though they do not have a policy, or call claiming to be another well-known company. Callers usually have access to personal information that makes their targets believe 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 the £10 or £20 leaving their victim’s account month after month will not be noticed.

If a direct debit has been set up without your permission, or you have been duped, you are entitled to claim all your money back from your bank. Most of the people that have reported this to Which? have been refunded, but it can be time consuming and a hassle, the platform said. 

One 92-year-old grandmother paid out £10,000 ($13,300) over a two-year period to multiple firms claiming to be providing breakdown cover for her washing machine and boiler — as well as a dishwasher she does not own.

Despite having a call-blocking service with her phone provider, it turned out she had been hounded by cold callers telling her she needed to renew various policies she did not have. Believing their lies, she had repeatedly given out her bank details.

Her granddaughter shared details of 25 firms that either charged her grandmother monthly or repeatedly pestered her with nuisance calls. They claimed to be offering all sorts of services, including cover for blocked drains and loyalty schemes.

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

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The company websites use templates that look strikingly alike, and many of the firms are based in 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 is calling.

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

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