/ Money

Have you been cold called about ‘home appliance insurance’?

Ever received unexpected calls telling you that cover for your washing machine, oven, dishwasher or other home appliance cover is due for renewal?

We’re looking to hear from anyone who’s been cold called and offered ‘home appliance insurance’.

Maybe you’ve given away your payment details over the phone, thinking the caller was from your existing insurance company, but later found out it was someone else?

Unfortunately this is a scam that seems to be plaguing lots of you at the moment, and is particularly targeting the elderly.

While there are legitimate insurers who will cover your household appliances if they breakdown, we’ve been investigating reports that some are fraudulently taking people’s money.

Our Scam Watch reporter Faye Lipson also looked into these calls a couple of years ago, but our inbox has recently received a huge surge in reports.

Misleading and aggressive sales tactics

We’ve been told about various ways these companies are pressuring and misleading people into handing over their bank details.

Most commonly, they’ll pretend you already have a policy with them and offer to renew it for a cheaper price. Some people who do have appliance warranties are often caught out by this.

They’ll then sign you up for pricey monthly direct debits for services that probably don’t even exist.

Others just go straight in for the hard sell, often calling dozens of times a day, offering increasingly ‘better’ deals.

Most people probably don’t even need appliance breakdown cover, as many common appliance issues are covered by home contents insurance.

Shockingly, some callers even claim you owe hundreds of pounds for a policy you apparently signed up for years ago, but never paid for.

And they’ve been known to call back several times a day, threatening legal action and visits from debt collectors if you refuse to pay up.

But the threats are hollow. These companies have absolutely no right to take money from you. The calls are best ignored and reported.

Tell us your story

We want more to be done to stop these scammers being able to freely contact vulnerable people.

What to do if you’re worried you’ve given your bank details to a scammer

We’re looking to gather as many stories together as possible from people who’ve been affected to support this.

Are you regularly pestered by cold callers from these companies? Have you been persuaded to hand over your payment details? Did you get your money back?

It would be really useful to hear about your experiences for our research – just tell us what happened to you in the comments section below.

If you’d rather contact us anonymously, you can can also get in touch at scamwatch@which.co.uk.

Comments
rob says:
29 March 2021

My old father got cold called by Cover Team Direct about house appliance services, he paid £89.99 in April 2020 , then they returned to him in November for more money he asked to cancel but they made him pay £89.99- for a one year policy in order to cancel the 5 year policy. Then in March 2021 they were back for more money this time after 170£ claiming the 5 yr policy was still in effect. Luckily credit cards have been changed and we have been warned by the authorities not to establish contact with this organisation as scam companies try to contact you trying to convince you they’ll return your money and then you become victim to a secondary scam. This team is very threatening over the phone and my parents are scared to speak to them. They don’t operate with e mails just call you to catch you off guard, from reading many websites they target the elderly and vulnerable.

raymond aldred says:
30 March 2021

yes i got caught by them as well.

Donna Davenport says:
29 March 2021

A company called services home plan (tel no: 01273655182) keep calling insisting that my elderly father had a policy to cover a washing machine and a fridge and that it was up for renewal, i asked for more details such as policy number, date policy started how was it paid and how much, which they gave me!
I told them I manage my father’s financial affairs and there has never been a policy taken out with them, it really couldn’t come at a worse time as we have just buried my mother and these calls make me very angry.

Mrs A North says:
30 March 2021

I was called by Home Care this morning, offering to renew the service guarantee on my washing machine either for 1 year or 3 years, at a hefty discount. I know I have no such plan in place for a washing machine which is about 20 years old. I went along with the call refusing to give my email address, but when he asked my age I informed him I give out NO personal details to scam callers. I then put the phone down. The number they called from was 01555 458 2003.
All cold collers get told they are scammers, fraudsters, liars, cheat. Any one calling fromAmazon Visa etc, are informed the legitimate companies they claim to represent do not make calls to their customers without having full details to hand.

Wayne Easton says:
30 March 2021

02037804592 called just now. Asked if I was me at X & addy. Then launched into speil re Washing Machine Warrant. Told her where to go, she hung up.

Graham Layton says:
5 April 2021

HI. Just had a call from a company calling themselves Service Home Plan, 01273 655 188. They were calling to seek renewal of an insurance on a white good. I told them it’s not our practice to take out such insurance. They claimed they had taken it over from Domestic and General. When I asked on what good, they avoided the answer, saying we had a fridge, washing machine and cooker (which is a fairly safe guess, isn’t it). They asked confirmation of my name and address early on in the conversation, which they had and I confirmed. When they started talking about account details, it confirmed my suspicions. The first caller brought in his manager to have a word with me. He mentioned setting up the direct debit, and sending the paperwork to me to look at, saying I would have 28 days in which to cancel. At that point , I told him clearly that we would not be taking out any insurance and to not impliment any direct debit. I paused the call for a moment to have a word with my wife on a point, and when I got back to the manager, the line was dead. I’ve just checked my bank to ensure that there is no direct debit that this company could claim to have taken over, and I’ve blocked their telephone number.

Lyn C says:
5 April 2021

They called me last week. I knew immediately it was a scam. I told her I just bought new machines when they broke (in reality I fix them). She ignored me and carried on with her script. I listed appliances, all high end. Then added 5 TV’s, cooker hob, extraction fan etc. Kept her going for 20 minutes. She also believes my name is Elizabeth Windsor living at Buck Palace postcode. Waste their time for as long as possible, it costs them money.

Jo Searle says:
8 April 2021

8/4/21
I have just been rung twice by the same number 01273655191, first a male voice and then female. Both Asian heritage sounding and claiming they were ringing to renew the warrantee on my kitchen appliances. Suspicious, I told them I had no warrantee so it couldn’t be renewed. They said appliances bought in the last five years would still need insuring (especially ‘in these Covid times’). I said that my appliances were all much older than five years. They told me I only needed to give them my bank sort code and account number. I told them I knew it was a scam and had their phone number. At this point the woman hung up.

smithy says:
8 April 2021

Just had a call from company called National Appliance Cover. The guy was quite forceful in telling me that I took out cover on my washing machine on 7th march 2019, at at cost of £99.50 a year. I told him that I think he was wrong and to my knowledge I didnt do this. He continued to say that payment was now due ,but they are now reducing it by 40% and I would have to pay £60 only now. He said i made a one of payment on my Visa card? I started doubting myself by this time. I told him I would nt be paying anything and was going to end the call and would check with my bank. He then said, By the time you do that the money would be taken from my bank. I chekced my bank statements and have not had any amounts taken out!! Surprise, surprise. What a horrible little man. Good job I didnt give in and give him any of my bank details. His number was 01544248339

Sarah says:
9 April 2021

My elderly Mother was scammed last week for £300 to insure a washing machine. Unfortunately we do not have their number. Needles to say no paperwork has come through and they rang again on Easter Monday trying to get more. Fortunately I was there and said this was a scam to the. And they hung up. The bank says they can’t help as they don’t have the information? Seems like nothing can be done. Needless to say we have changed all her bank cards now. It appears nothing can be done by anyone to catch these vermin.

Hi Sarah,

I am sorry to hear what happened to your mother. Many of these insurance scams operate in the UK with what I believe is a loophole that makes them sort of legitimate. They usually call them service plans rather than insurance as insurance companies must register with the FSA.

It is still a scam though.

Can you check the phone records for the caller ID? Did you get the phone number the last time? If they call again, try to stay calm and get as much information as possible out of them. If scammers think they have a willing victim, they can be quite patient while you ask them to repeat their company or spell it out to you.

I find it hard to believe the police or banks won’t do anything to stop these scams. Surely the bank knows where the payment went.

I came across this convo the other day where ‘Homeserve was fined £30.0m’ by the FCA for the mis-selling of insurance policies so don’t understand why nothing is being done to stop the rest of these vermin.
https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/homeserve-fined-30-million-fca-home-emergency-cover/

The reality is that nothing can be done as offering service plans is not insurance and is not illegal. Cold calling is also not illegal, as long as you don’t contact TPS customers. D&G themselves aren’t regulated for their service plans. They make it appear as they are as they are FCA regulated for their accidental damage plans as that’s insurance. They have made the papers before for saying they aren’t FCA regulated and hiding behind that to avoid paying out. Here is an example. D&G have set the precedent and are their own worst enemy. In their attempt to dodge scrutiny themselves they have gas lighted the industry, made it extremely easy to setup ‘service plan’ companies and now all they do is complain about rogues. Its their own fault. You don’t want FCA scrutiny, fine. But you also have to deal with the side effects.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/money/2016/apr/23/dg-insurance-policy-service-plan-domestic-general

Elsa says:
9 April 2021

02039121396 just called me from “Homecare”. Wanted to renew my washing machine warranty. Asked the first guy what machine I had, he responded “hotpoint”, I asked how much the cover would be and he transferred me to his “supervisor” who went through the whole spiel. Couldn’t tell me where I’d bought the washing machine or when because “it was such a long time ago” but could tell me the warranty ran out 2 days ago. I asked him what machine I had and he said it was a “Bosch”. When I said I would just quickly google “Homecare” to make sure they’re legit, he hung up the phone. I currently have a Candy and is in full warranty!! LOL

Jennifer A says:
9 April 2021

Had a call today. New my name and address. Launched straight into how I would get £100 off the 3 yr plan. Paperwork would be sent and I would have 14 day cooling off period. How would I like to pay? I said I would decide once I saw the paperwork – the English guy hung up.

Nige says:
10 April 2021

I get this all the time!! Always sound Indian but say they are in Leeds… Why on earth can’t more be done to stop them? Number called was 0141 5360053 (which is Glasgow code), “Home Appliance Support”.

KT I says:
11 April 2021

My elderly mother with Alzheimers was scammed by this same phone number on 10 April. This number plus a Leeds one rang her 4 times on one day about washing machine insurance. When I try and ring either number it just goes straight to music – no message saying ‘thanks for ringing X you’re in the queue’ or anything like that. No message saying ‘our office hours are X please ring back in office hours’. The bank say because my mum willingly gave her bank details and the money has left her account they cannot refund it and we will have to do a ‘disputed transaction’ once it appears on her bank statement. The problem is it’s the type of service you hope you don’t need, so how we will dispute that we didn’t receive the service if we don’t need to use it – that’s the only way to find out if they genuinely do offer a ‘service’ . I know they will not be there if the washing machine should break down and the phone numbers aren’t answered in any case. How also will I dispute that the ‘paperwork’ never arrived (it won’t) when my mum cannot remember what happened 20 minutes ago, and will probably bin it if it does. I live 4 hours drive away and cannot pop round to check even under normal circumstances. I was very angry with the bank’s attitude. They told me I should contact the merchant directly for a refund, and proudly gave me a number they had on file. Guess what, straight to music as with the other 2 phone numbers. Mum’s card is now blocked and I have blacklisted the 2 phone numbers, but I suspect her number and details will just be passed to another person from the same company and they will be in touch again. She could easily fall for it again – she won’t remember she’s already been scammed once. Mum’s phone number is registered with the TPS but this company got past that. I’m at a loss what to do other than complain in writing to the bank about their treatment of vulnerable customers with dementia diagnosis.

John says:
12 April 2021

I recently joined the Scam Marshalls organisation, being absolutely inundated with scam phone calls, messages and emails.
I reported this number: 01273655235
to the ICO website but thought you’d like to know about it too.
They called me today 12 April 2021 at 15.56
The woman who spoke to me said something about customer service and that I was upgraded for my appliances cover plan, with 60% discount etc. I strung her along and she then passed me on to her “supervisor” whom I also kept on the line for a while.
He made the mistake of giving me their “customer service” phone number: 01413450024
When I asked if this was a UK number, he said yes and why did I want to know that? Then promptly hung up.
The number they used to call me on, as far as my telephone provider was telling me was 01273655235
I called it back only to hear a message that the number is not in service. So they used what these criminals call spoofing a number, making the caller ID look totally different to the phone number they actually called you with.
So I then called the “customer service” department I was given, 01413450024 and not surprisingly, the background chattering noise was the same as in the previous call. Someone answered (also with a strong foreign accent) and said “Home service, how can I help you?”
I just made him repeat what he said to be sure, then said thank you and hung up.
He instantly called me back with a threatening tone asking why I called.
Needless to say, I gave him a piece of my mind.

It is so very frustrating that these criminals are able to do this with impunity for so long!
How difficult can it be to catch them?
01413450024 is a landline number.
They are pretending to be a legitimate organisation and with little effort, I found that they are based in Glasgow.

I only have praise for the ICO, but surely, it should be made impossible for these criminals to operate.