A national campaign, called ‘Stop the Scams’, has been launched by the insurance industry to help the public spot signs of scams and report them to the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) Cheatline following predictions that insurance fraud will rise.
Recent figures show fraudulent insurance claims rose by 5% in 2019 with many being linked to dangerous scams. There are concerns the current economic climate could see this figure rise further, following the 2008 recession where fraudulent insurance claims increased by 17%.
Currently at least one insurance scam takes place every minute in the UK, leaving victims devastated and costing honest consumers more than £3 billion each year.
To help protect the public and stop insurance scams rising, the IFB along with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) which represents the UK’s 200 insurers, and the City of London Police Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), are launching the ‘Stop the Scams’ ad campaign which will see animated scam warnings rolled out across social media.
Common insurance scams highlighted by the campaign
This is when a fraudster or unscrupulous firm contacts someone out of the blue to tell them they may be entitled to compensation.
If convinced, victims will hand over their personal details which can be used to steal their identity or bank funds, or they could be encouraged to take out a fraudulent insurance claim.
With record numbers out of work or losing money due to the disruption of Covid-19, these scammers may offer to recover financial losses incurred as a result of the pandemic.
‘Ghost Broker’ scams
These fraudsters are known for selling fake car insurance. However, with Covid-19 impacting so many people’s work and travel plans, ‘Ghost Brokers’ could also offer deals that claim to compensate further disruption.
‘Ghost Broker’ scams are rising. The IFB has seen its percentage of investigations into the issue double in recent years. Research also shows one in three 18-24 year-olds has seen a suspicious insurance advert on social media.
‘Crash for Cash’ scams
This involves a fraudster who intentionally drives dangerously (such as slamming on their brakes with a car close behind) to cause an innocent motorist to crash into them so they can claim for compensation.
With many people still getting back into the habit of driving after months of reduced activity, the risk of falling victim to a ‘Crash for Cash’ is higher if driving skills are not up to scratch.
“With Covid-19 causing so many people to lose out financially it sadly means there are more opportunities for insurance scammers to exploit the vulnerable. These fraudsters don’t care who suffer – from the elderly to key workers, we’ve seen them get targeted.”
“It’s never been more important to raise public awareness of insurance fraud which is why we’re launching the ‘Stop the Scams’ campaign. If anyone sees something that doesn’t look right, they should report it to the IFB Cheatline.”
Mark Allen, Fraud and Financial Crime Manager at ABI, said:
“Insurance fraud is no victimless crime. While the Coronavirus crisis has led to financial hardship for many, no one should think that committing an insurance fraud is a path to easy money. From getting a criminal record and possibly a jail sentence, to finding future insurance and other vital financial products like mortgages and loans, much harder to obtain and more expensive, the consequences of committing fraud will be severe and long-lasting. The industry makes no apology for its relentless pursuit of insurance cheats to protect genuine customers who end up footing the bill through their insurance premiums.”
Detective Superintendent Peter Ratcliffe, Head of the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Funded Units, said:
“Fraudsters will use any opportunity to try and steal money from the public, including the exploitation of tragic events such as the current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. We work effectively with the IFB, ABI and insurers to tackle insurance fraud, and our unit has continued the fight against criminals, despite the challenges posed by coronavirus.
“Our industry partners provide us with valuable intelligence to help us identify suspected fraudsters and carry out this enforcement activity, but we also rely on information from the public. As such, it’s vital people report to IFB’s Cheatline when they have information about a suspected insurance fraud or fraudster.”
Evidence of an insurance scam can be reported to the IFB’s confidential and anonymous Cheatline (powered by Crimestoppers) on 0800 422 0421 or online.
The IFB uses information from Cheatline reports to work with insurers, the police and industry watchdogs to help fight fraud, keep people safe and keep costs down.