Insurance Ireland are advising customers to be vigilant to fraudsters seeking to exploit the current environment by tailoring insurance scams to the unfolding Covid-19 pandemic and capitalise on the anxiety and concerns of people in these uncertain times. With the increased numbers of people working from home, there will be a significant increase in customers being targeted by fraudsters via;
Phishing Email - Manipulating people to disclose sensitive information or open malicious attachments.
SMS Texts - These requests will falsely claim to be legitimate insurance companies and for a fee or charge, help the customer with policy alterations and submit or handle claims.
Phonecall and Social Media - The intent of these communications is to elicit personal or financial information or money from unsuspecting victimsgenerally by “Ghost brokers”. Ghost brokers are professional fraudsters selling forged or invalid and discounted insurance policies to unsuspecting consumers. They usually advertise their services online or within local communities, typically claiming to be able to secure a cheap insurance policy, while pretending to work for, or act on behalf of a legitimate insurance company.
Other types of insurance fraud scams relate to pensions. This is where a fraudster will typically make unsolicited contact regarding existing pension plans and offer various ways in which consumers can either enhance their pension pot or access the funds.
Customers should also be alert to any such communication, including but not limited to
· Requests for money to alter a Policy which you have not initiated.
· Requests for you to provide your Policy details for any reason.
· Requests for you to provide financial information for any reason.
· Notification that someone is taking over another Provider’s Policy, which does not come from your own Insurer or Broker.
· Offering a free review of your pension plan
· Offering ways in which you can access your pension fund before retirement age
If in any doubt, Customers should:
· Not react without first checking the email address, phone number, website, or social media origin of the contact. Take sufficient time to do relevant checks and do not rush in making any decision.
· Use only the services of people you know and trust.
· Do not open any email or SMS links without checking the source.
· Always use contact details on your documents provided by your insurer or broker
· Check the Central Bank of Ireland’s online registers to ensure that the firm is authorised to provide the service it is offering.
Moyagh Murdoch CEO Insurance Ireland said “there will be increased attempts by fraudsters to exploit the heightened anxieties of the public during the current crisis, and with a range of covid-19 measures and supports available to businesses and customers, it is important that people remain vigilant and aware that they can be targeted by text, phonecall, email and social media by fraudsters impersonating insurers or brokers seeking to extract personal or financial information or money from victims”
If you have been a victim or know of someone who has been a victim of a scam you can report this to Insurance Confidential. More Insurance information relating to COVID-19, including advice and guidance for consumers and businesses can be found at the Insurance Ireland COVID-19 Hub
For further information on ghost brokers see CBI website - https://centralbank.ie/consumer-hub/explainers/what-are-ghost-brokers