Insurance Fraud Bureau

Public urged to watch out for insurance claims scammers looking to exploit Covid-19 financial losses

30 July 2020

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The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) in partnership with City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) are warning the public to be alert to a potential rise in insurance claims scams that offer to recover financial losses caused by the pandemic.

With big numbers of people across the UK taking an economic hit because of the disruption caused by Covid-19, there are concerns members of the public will be financially desperate and more susceptible to falling victim to insurance claims scams.

Fraudsters or unscrupulous claims management companies (CMCs) could cold call or message victims with unrealistic offers to help recover financial losses caused by the disruption of Covid-19.

Insurance claims scams could appear in the form of claims phishing, where a victim is told they are entitled to compensation and then asked to provide their personal and financial information in order to process a claim. The scammer can then use these details to steal their identity or attempt to gain access to funds from their bank account.

Another insurance claim scam tactic is claims farming, where a victim is told they are entitled to compensation and encouraged to make an insurance claim. Often there is no ground to claim so the person is manipulated into providing false or misleading information leaving them implicated in a criminal act of insurance fraud.

With several big-name firms now marketing legal services for those who have suffered financial loss due to the pandemic, there is an indication that insurance claims for Covid-19 disruption may become common practice.

Considering the possible audience reach of sophisticated fraud networks and existing unscrupulous CMCs, there is a worrying potential for a nuisance covid-19 insurance claims scam culture to emerge.

“With the pandemic causing so many people to lose out financially, scammers and unscrupulous companies could try to exploit the situation. Nuisance Covid-19 claims scams could become the new PPI. We encourage everyone to be vigilant and to report evidence of insurance fraud to the IFB’s confidential Cheatline”. – Stephen Dalton, Head of Intelligence and Investigations at the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB).

The IFB, IFED and the ABI which work in tandem to tackle insurance fraud, are urging the public to be alert to insurance claims scams and to take action to report suspicious activity:  

  • If contacted out of the blue, never provide personal or financial information.
  • Only make a claim directly through the insurance provider and only use the contact details provided at the point the policy was taken out.
  • If support is required to manage a claim, use a reputable FCA-registered (Financial Conduct Authority) company or SRA-regulated (Solicitors Regulation Authority) Solicitors firm.
  • Report any suspicions of insurance fraud to the IFB’s confidential Cheatline service.
  • Take steps to protect personal data from being stolen to help to prevent being targeted. Guidance can be found at the Information Commissioner’s Office.

“Criminals will use whatever means they can to try and exploit innocent members of the public and will have no qualms in using national tragedies, including COVID-19, to commit fraud. It is therefore vital that people remain vigilant to the threat that fraudsters pose and be wary of unsolicited calls, text messages or emails about COVID-19-related insurance claims and offers of compensation. If in doubt – do without! Report any suspicions to the IFB’s Cheatline.” – DCI Edelle Michaels, Head of City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED).

“Scammers thrive in times of economic uncertainty and target the vulnerable. The key is to be on your guard - if someone approaches you out of the blue with an offer that seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If in any doubt, then walk away.” – Mark Allen, Manager of Fraud and Financial Crime at the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

Insurance fraud can be reported confidentially and anonymously to the IFB’s Cheatline via its phone service which is powered by CrimeStoppers on 0800 422 0421 or online at insurancefraudbureau.org/cheatline