/ 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?

Update 26/04/2021

Which? News: Combating the ‘appliance cover’ con

Home appliance insurance call warning

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 conversation.comments@which.co.uk.

Comments

I have been staying with my grandfather for a couple of months and am absolutely appalled that nearly every day he gets at least one, sometimes several, scam calls from “Home Care Services” scam insurance companies selling him – or FAR WORSE telling him to “renew” his contract with them. Last week I had to cancel his credit card and order a new one because he gave the details over the phone – luckily I intercepted the call before they took £189 off it!!!!! I am SO angry that this goes on -and clearly target the elderly because I don’t get calls like this in my own home. How can I report them? Who do I need to tell about these scammers so they are taken to court / stopped. It is just disgusting, I am feeling so angry about it. I asked all three recent callers how they sleep at night. Thanks for your help. Georgia

Hi Georgia. Sorry to hear your Grandfather is receiving numerous calls of this nature.

It is incredibly frustrating and the only way to prevent this is to report the matter.

It’s essential consumers report calls of this nature as it helps the authorities to identify and take action against rogue companies.

First, you should report this to both the ICO and Telephone Preference Service (if your Grandfather’s number is registered with the TPS), which you can do online relatively quickly.

https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts-and-nuisance-calls/

https://www.tpsonline.org.uk/complaint

This assumes you have a record of the numbers that called.

If at any point any of the caller’s have suggested they were calling to renew a policy your Grandfather already has, when in fact he has no policies, this would be misrepresentation and is essentially an act of fraud. Under these circumstances I would urge you to report this to Action Fraud, which you can do online. Additionally, you should also report the same to Trading Standards.

Have many of these type of calls. I have had them suggest I had insured my ceilings and this needed to be renewed! Another said must renew my gas boiler insurance. I pointed out that we have no gas boiler. This nonplused him. (We have an air source heat pump). They all seem to suggest that as we have had their insurance, we cannot cancel without paying more! We do have Domestic & General, but no other. I have demanded paperwork to confirm who they are but they have the cheek to say unless we pay, they cannot send any paper work! I block all their calls now. We have never received any paperwork. Different numbers each time and ‘Appliance care’. ‘Home care’ and many other versions of these names. One also said he had my bank card details. He had an old number and not sure how he knew that.

Hi Doris. Thank you for posting your experiences with these companies.

As you indicated, these companies will often use ‘similar’ names which is intended to align them with reputable companies and convince consumers they are their current provider. They will also abbreviate their company name or fail to declare the full or correct company name which is intended to avoid detection.

This tactic of suggesting the consumer must pay more to cancel when a service plan never existed, is intended to intimidate consumers and is quite outrageous. Many consumers are threatened with debt collectors if they do not renew or pay to cancel, but these are hollow threats intended to cause alarm, distress and anxiety.

Many of these companies have been brought to the attention of the Authorities following reports by consumers which has resulted in enforcement action. Their websites have been shut down, significant fines have been issued and investigations are taking place which should lead to prosecutions and/or convictions.

It’s essential consumers continue to report calls of this nature as it helps the authorities to identify and take action against rogue companies. It only requires a small number of reports for the Authorities to investigate and take action. Reports should be made to the ICO and Telephone Preference Service (if your number is registered with TPS) which you can do online relatively quickly. Links to both are available from previous posts.

Reports can also be made to Action Fraud and Trading Standards, which again you can do online.

Paul says:
1 October 2021

It would help if the sellers or manufacturers stopped allegedly selling their sales data on the open market.

Hi Paul, I cannot see what a Manufacturer would have to gain by selling customer data to a third party, unless of course they received a commission when a service plan was sold. There is of course always the possibility of a data breach.

Most of the reports from consumers relate to rogue companies who do not have data from Manufacturers. These rogue companies simply play a numbers game, calling tens of thousands of telephone numbers on the assumption they will reach consumers who have extended warranties or service plans. Once connected they give the impression they are the customers current provider, state the policy is due for renewal and request payment.

Many consumers don’t necessarily remember when a service plan is due for renewal, assume the caller is their current provider and are unfortunately caught out.

Teresa says:
1 October 2021

I keep getting calls from domestic appliance insurance but always on withheld number. I once told them I don’t need washer insurance because I don’t need a washer because on a Saturday I put my washing in a wheel barrow and take it to the river to wash 😂 I’m still receiving calls every couple of weeks. I don’t have any of my white goods insured apart from my fridge and freezer of which I pay monthly and don’t need to renew. I didn’t tell this guy though. I thought I would play along with him today. He already had my address and said because it’s due for renewal he would post the paperwork out to me and said he was passing me onto the payment depart. He said I needed to set a DD up. I soon told him he was a scamming Ba££££d and hung up

Brilliant Teresa, I especially liked the reference to the washing of clothes in the river. I can’t imagine his sales script covered that scenario.

Anthony Bright says:
4 October 2021

I have been caught out by a chap calling himself Austin Naylor representing Fully Protected Ltd.
His pitch was that I had a policy with them for insurance of white goods. He was going to charge my debit card for the next two years in advance . I told him this was not going to happen and that he could cancel the policy, He said there would be a cancellation charge of £84. This seemed to be the lesser of two evils so I paid the £84. When thinking about it later I realised that I had been conned I then tried to phone the company, but got no response, I tried emailing but again not possible. I feel absolutely stupid to have been taken in like this and just console myself with the thought that I meet Mr Naylor
face to face.

Hi Anthony. Sorry to hear you were misled by this company and paid the cancellation fee.

You are however in a good position to recover the money paid. I would suggest you contact your bank, explain the situation and ask your bank to implement a chargeback. In doing so, you should receive a full refund.

I would also suggest you report this to the ICO and the Telephone Preference Service (assuming your number is registered with the TPS). This you can do online relatively quickly and links for both can be found in previous posts.

You should also report this to both Trading Standards and Action Fraud, which again you can do online relatively quickly.

I hope you succeed recovering the amount paid.

In case you are not aware, Fully Protected Limited were only incorporated in April of this year and therefore it would be improbable for you to have a policy which was due for renewal. As the caller now has your Card details, I would strongly suggest you instruct your Bank not to process any further payments from the company and to cancel your Card and issue a new Card.

Kevin says:
6 October 2021

Just had a call claiming my washing machine manufacturers warranty had expired and wanted to renew. Unfortunately that actually expired in 2017. They were repeatedly told to go away, hung up a few times for them to only ring back. Ended up unplugging my home phone, to get rid of them. This is something that needs stamping out, good luck in getting the message out there.

Hi Kevin. Do you have a record of the calling number and did the caller state their company name?

Hi, my mother passed away recently and my father admitted he hadn’t kept an eye on his finances as he would normally and could I help. I have registered a Power of Attorney with the bank so that I now have access to his account on online and my own card for shopping etc. I was shocked that his money has been virtually wiped out by ‘home insurance/appliance insurance debit card transactions over and over again over a period of six months – all slightly different companies but for £190 every time. The bank have been very helpful and we got him a new card and PIN and a block was put on all those companies and much of the money refunded. Now after two months, the transactions have started again and we don’t know how, my father is adamant that he hasn’t spoken to anyone and given his new card details over the phone to them. I am at my wits end what to do and how to stop them. The bank have been helpful, stopped his card again and refunded the recent transactions but how are these people getting his card details. Should this be reported to the Police and not just the bank?

Hi Sharon, thank you for sharing your experience.

Yes, absolutely, this should be reported to the Police. In the first instance, make a report online to Action Fraud. I would also suggest you report the matter to Trading Standards, which again you can do online (via Citizens advice consumer helpline).

If you have a record of any of the telephone numbers that called your Father, I would also suggest you report this to the ICO and the Telephone Preference Service (assuming your Fathers number is registered with the TPS) This you can do online relatively quickly and links for both can be found in previous posts. It’s essential consumers report calls of this nature as it helps the authorities to identify and take action against rogue companies. It only requires a small number of reports for the Authorities to investigate and take action.

When a consumer provides their Card details to a Company, especially for a service which is ongoing and is likely to be renewed, my understanding is that payment is taken on the basis of a ‘Continuous Payment Authority’. Continuous Payment Authorities are slightly different to Standing Orders or Direct debits. They do not offer the same guarantee as direct debits and give the company taking the payment more flexibility about when and how much it takes from your account. A consumer can of course cancel a Continous Payment Authority, with either the Company collecting the payments or their bank, but I would always recommend it is cancelled with the Bank.

My understanding was that when a Card was cancelled, because the Continuous Payment Authority is linked to the Card number, then it would not be possible for the Company to debit any further amounts from the consumers account. As you have indicated that further amounts have been charged to your Fathers new card, it leaves me wondering whether the Continuous Payment Authority has somehow remained, but this would seem highly unusual. Is it possible your Father might have provided both his Card and Bank Account details?

Many of these rogue companies are connected and will share Bank or Card details, allowing the associated companies to debit further unauthorised amounts. I would certainly speak with your Fathers bank again and try to establish whether it is possible for a Continuous Payment Authority to continue after a new Card has been issued.

I am pleased you have been able to recover much of the money and hope you manage to establish how these companies have debited further amounts from your Fathers account.

It would certainly be useful to know the outcome. Good luck.

Watch out for a company called uk service plan. They cold called and tricked my relative into believing they were his existing insurance provider and offered a discount, just needed to confirm his bank details… they took £495 from his account. He then received papers for a new policy, he called them and they agreed to cancel but could not return money for a month for ‘reasons’. He then called me, I made multiple calls on his behalf, managed to get his money refunded by reporting to police and trading standards, and threatening legal action – at this point they were suddenly able to make an immediate refund…. Absolute scumbags.

Hi Suzi. Thanks for sharing your experience. Other consumers have posted concerns regarding the company, who were only incorporated in February of this year. The Director has held Directorships at sixteen companies, fourteen of which are no longer trading, with two remaining active.

There is absolutely no valid reason why a consumer should wait a month to receive a refund and I am pleased you challenged this. Reporting the matter to the Authorities and suggesting you would take legal action was the right course of action. Delighted to hear you received a refund.

Mike says:
9 October 2021

I have just received my second scam call in 2 weeks regarding renewal of insurance cover for my kitchen appliances that was apparently due to expire. The first caller rang off when I asked her to confirm the make and model of washing machine I allegedly had insured with them.

The second caller was more persistent and pretended she didn’t have the make and model details with her at the time. She wanted to transfer me to a ‘manager’ who would take further details from me.

I asked her who this insurance company was and she said ‘UK Service Plan’. She was on a loser because I never insure any of my kitchen appliances as once the manufacturer’s warranty has expired I repair them myself.

The caller’s telephone number showed as 02031 908 785, although I expect it had been falsified. I rang off and blocked the number.

This is the new setup of Premier Protect Holdings Ltd, in addition to their recently acquired First Point Solutions Ltd trading as National Home Cover . Despite a trading standards criminal investigation and a High Court interim injunction they just keep on going and going with impunity.

Mike, if you have not already done so, please report this to the ICO. This you can do online relatively quickly, a link is shown on previous posts.

Because the caller was asking you to renew a policy or plan you do not have, this would be misrepresentation and is an act of fraud. Please report this to both Action Fraud and Trading Standards, which again you can do online relatively quickly.

It’s essential consumers continue to report calls of this nature as it helps the Authorities to identify and take action against rogue companies.

National Appliance Cover Ltd are about to complete their dissolution any day now despite all the publicity they received here on Which? No objection has been raised it seems.

Also in other news – I’ve noticed Repair & Assure are now recruiting for a second call centre in Crawley to compliment their Brighton one. The ICO fine seems to have galvanised them into expansion.

Just had dealings with National Appliance Cover trading name of first point solutions, an elderly relative had £495 taken recently for a worthless policy. They seemed helpful about a refund, but non was forthcoming and they just keep delaying and fobbing me off. I have contacted the Financial Conduct Authority, who say they are not registered with them, and have now reported them to action fraud. Companies house need to investigate these scam firms and prevent them registering if they have history or re inventing themselves. Being on companies house seems to give them some legitimacy .

Michael, sorry to hear about your relative. The tactics you describe are not uncommon and are intended to frustrate consumers in the hope the consumer will just write it off.

But remain determined, the law is on your side. If the company fails to issue a refund, advise them you will take Court action. Alternatively, ask your Bank or Credit Card company to issue the refund.

I would also suggest you report this to the ICO and the Telephone Preference Service (if your relative is registered with the TPS).

Reports to Action Fraud and Trading Standards should also be made.

I had a marketing call from White Goods Repair today, despite my landline being registered with TPS. The number showed up as 01183247327. I will report the call.

Hi Wavechange, thanks for submitting the calling number. Was the nature of the call a survey, to determine the brands and ages of appliances you own or did they call suggesting you had a service plan or warranty that was due for renewal?

Hi Wingman – It was a marketing call trying to sell me appliance cover and there was no mention of renewal or questions about what I own. I said that I was registered with TPS and would report the company to the ICO.

Thanks for clarifying Wavechange. This particular number does appear to be very active at the moment, but this is a common trend, whereby thousands of calls are made over a short period of time, but once complaints start to escalate calls from the number immediately cease, but often continue from a new number. This is a common tactic to avoid detection. Fortunately, in collaboration with the telephone Service Providers, the ICO are quite accomplished at tracing the origin of these calling numbers, so it’s essential that consumers continue to report these calls.

I now receive so few nuisance calls that it is easy to report them.

We can only hope that others have reported this number too, which should result in the ICO investigating.

We can only hope that others have reported this number too, which should result in the ICO investigating.

Lorraine Fannin says:
13 October 2021

Had a phone call from a very insistent caller saying my washing machine warranty had expired and I should renew the insurance. They spoke slowly and carefully, as if expecting that they were calling someone either very deaf or old, and kept repeating my address (correct) and the make of washing machine (incorrect).
Telephone came up as 020 89 972 861
When I asked them to identify the company they were calling from they hung up.

Hi Lorraine, these rogue companies usually avoid identifying themselves and asking who they are puts them on the spot. As you experienced, they will often hang up when asked who they are, but will also use generic company names which cannot be verified. Any company that hangs up when asked who they are is clearly demonstrating they are a rogue organisation.

This is yet another number which appears to be very active at the moment, so it’s certainly worthwhile reporting the call to both the ICO and the Telephone Preference Service (assuming your number is registered with the TPS). Links for both can be found in previous posts.

Sarah-Jayne Richardson says:
18 October 2021

My mum has a standing order for £170 per year to Household appliances which she doesn’t remember taking out. Her bank have advised that even if she cancels from her end the company can still request the monies annually. She’s been offered the ability to change all her bank details which feels a little disproportionate?
Any help would be great

Hi Sarah-Jayne. If your Mother has no recollection of this, I would strongly suggest the Standing Order is cancelled with her Bank. This will prevent any further funds being debited from her account. If she has any documentation from the company in question, they should be contacted and advised she no longer wishes to continue. If she has no contact details for the company then it’s simply a case of waiting to see if they get in touch once they become aware the Standing Order has been cancelled.

If it’s a rogue company they may suggest she cannot cancel or needs to pay a termination fee. This being the case, ask them to forward a copy of the agreement, to include a list of the appliances covered (this should include the make and model numbers of the appliances). Rogue companies often don’t have a record of the appliances, so if they fail to provide this they are in no position to make demands. They would be in no position to make any demands or refuse cancellation if they cannot confirm in writing what the annual payment covers.

If it’s a genuine service plan or extended warranty, when the provider becomes aware the Standing Order has been cancelled, they would typically write to the customer. Rogue companies take a more direct approach and are likely to call demanding payment. But don’t be intimidated and don’t feel pressured to pay. Simply ask them to forward details of the agreement in writing so you can make an informed decision whether to continue or cancel.

Steve Perry says:
29 October 2021

Just had a call from “Cover Plan UK”, offering a reduction as my washing machine plan expired “today”. I expressed surprise that I hadn’t received a written invitation. I then spoke to the “manager” “Martin James” who explained to me that “legislation had changed necessitating this call”. When I said I’d call back after checking my paperwork he became quite irritable, calling me “mate” and accusing me of procrastination. For what it’s worth the number used was 02031 762984 but I guess that’s not a real number anyway.

On checking I found my real plan expires in May…

Hi Steve. Thanks for posting the callers number. Interesting the caller suggested that ‘legislation had changed’ and this being the reason for the call! It is of course nonsense, yet rogue companies are constantly changing their tactics to fool consumers.

I am pleased you were aware the caller was not the real provider of any extended warranty or service plan you already have.

I would encourage anyone receiving calls of this nature to report the calling number to both the ICO and the Telephone Preference Service (if your number is registered with the TPS). Links for both can be found on previous posts.

IAN BAKER says:
2 November 2021

a very polite chap just phoned me from 02031785762 to tell me my washing machine insurance had expired today and would i like to renew it. apparently by paying £9.90 now over the phone would give insurance for another year, at that amount monthly . he said i could then phone their repair agents who would come and fix it today and replace it if faulty. this is odd as my washing machine went wrong yesterday and I looked on line for local repairers and new ones. obviously somehow they found out who i am from all this. i have no insurance in the name they gave me which an internet search couldn’t find, and i cant remember the name the chap said. i hung up as it was a scam to get my bank details.

Mr David Turton says:
5 November 2021

I have direct experience of the “Domestic Appliances Insurance” (DAI) scam on November 5th 2021.
I was rung by a lady with an Asian accent telling me that she had good news about my DAI. She knew my name but raised my suspicions by quoting the correct postcode but giving the house name for an address which I vacated 16 years ago. I demanded that she repeated my address but she avoided doing so and eventually handed me over to “her manager”. He was male with an Asian accent. I continued to press the house name issue but he pressed on to tell me about how they were reducing my annual premium from £320 pa to £220 pa. That was the good news!
I was certain by now that this was a scam but continued to press him for information and slowly the strength of his insistence of his protest at my accusations of possible fraud grew. He even gave his name as Jamie Wilson (Asian?) and his phone number of 01273977406 for me to call him if I had a problem!
I finally cut him off saying that I would check with my bank.
I quickly checked for a Direct Debit of £320 in Nov 2020 and, of course, found nothing.
At which moment he phoned back to protest about me cutting him off. I pointed out the the number he was ringing from 02033320074 was not the number that he had given me to ring and I put the phone down once more.
I have blocked his 0203 number.
I hope this is helpful.

John Hedley says:
9 November 2021

Getting fed up different people same off the script talk
Generally by asking for written paperwork they go away.
I even asked how much to cancel it was £190 it really gets you down same script

Hi John. These rogues are relentless and constant calls do become tiresome. As you indicated, rogue companies don’t provide any documentation which is to avoid being traced, so asking them to forward details of the service is a good measure of whether they are legitimate or not.

If you receive regular calls and have not already done so, I would suggest you report the calling numbers to both the ICO and Telephone Preference Service. Links for both can be found on previous posts.

Had 2 calls this evening saying they were calling regarding my appliances needing renewal insurance the fridge freezer washing machine etc after telling him I wash all clothing by hand in the bath use a bbq in the conservatory for cooking and use ice
Boxes only he tutted and hang up 🤣 probably won’t get another call

Hi Lauren,
I am the LPA for a great friend who is 101 yrs of age and has been in a residential care home since April 2021. Since holding this LPA responsibility in early Sept, I immediately cancelled multiple direct debits which were clearly from scam organisations effectively selling the same insurance cover. One of these organisations, I won’t name them here but simply search online and you will see they just changed trading name again, has reinstated a direct debit and taken £99.99 on 5 Nov from my friends bank account (this is after I had cancelled the DD on 6 Sept). Also I have read how many others have tried to contact this organisation without success. I have just contacted the bank to see what they can do – but what else should I be doing to stop these payments being taken please? Hoping you can guide me to a solution that is legally binding and prevents further DD payments being taken. Many thanks

Hi John. Just to confirm, are the payments being taken by Direct Debit or from Bank Card details they hold? Many of these companies use Bank Card details with payments being taken as a ‘Continuous Payment Authority’. This is simpler for the company to set up when compared to a Direct Debit and unusually Banks seem reluctant to cancel Continuous Payment Authorities, often advising their customers to cancel with the company directly instead. But of course rogue companies will simply not cancel the CPA when a customer instructs them. Any company setting up a new Direct Debit without authorisation from the customer is a acting illegally and would find themselves in serious trouble with the Authorities in doing so. If the payments are being taken from a bank Card as a CPA and the bank are failing to address this, the best way to stop further payments is to instruct the Bank to cancel the card and issue a new one.

Hi Wingman, Thanks so much for getting back to me. This company (if one can call it so ..) has reinstated a direct debit to take a payment again (£99.99) 3 months after I had cancelled the DD. Up until 5 Nov, the company had been taking monthly DD’s. It looks like the company are choosing random dates now too, which helps them because it reduces the chances of me being able to cancel the payment on the date they have taken it. I have emailed the region Bank Manager to request help – hoping that somehow they can stop this company taking payments, or after reading other comments posted here – if I have to then we will close down the account and have to set-up a new one. I and it looks like several others, have no way of actually making contacting with this organisation … it is scary as I imagine co’s like this are preying on 000’s of elderly people. All new ideas and solutions most welcome please. Thanks again.

Hi John. Based on what you have explained and given you cancelled the previous Direct Debits and have given no authority for any further Direct Debits, I would be inclined to report this to the Police. Obtaining money in this manner is a serious offence and amounts to fraud.

Contacting the Bank again is also the right approach and as you have LPA, I would advise instructing the Bank to refuse any new Direct Debit instructions, to any organisation, without contacting you first and obtaining your authorisation.

As you had cancelled previous Direct Debits from rogue companies, I am somewhat surprised the Bank actioned the new Direct Debit and would have expected the Banks systems to have raised it as suspicious and requiring further confirmation before actioning.

I am finding that some Banks have been negligent in their duty to monitor situations of this nature and take appropriate action.

These rogues companies are a nasty plague on society, taking advantage of the elderly and vulnerable, and a robust robust approach is needed to stop their illegal activities.

As no authority was given for the latest Direct Debit and I’m sure the rogue company will have no evidence to prove any authority was given (IE. Recordings of telephone calls, contracts or service agreements sent by post or a copy of the Direct Debit instruction sent by post), then the Bank will have an obligation to refund any amounts paid.

I would also suggest reporting the matter to Trading Standards. Trading Standards have many open cases on these rogue companies and further evidence from consumers regarding their illegal activities will help the Authorities to take action and bring criminal charges against those behind these scams.

Hi Wingman, Thanks so much for your guidance. I will take up the matter with the Police and Trading Standards, and have contacted the bank once again. It is truly scary to think of how many thousands of elderly people are being taken advantage of by these scam organisations.

John, be persistent with the Bank and the Police. The Police might suggest this is a civil matter and direct you to the Bank, but it is fraud and it’s important the Police log the incident and take appropriate action.

The Bank also need to take a more robust approach to these rogue companies and should investigate the matter. If the Bank establish this company have not followed the required protocol or gained your authorisation for the Direct Debit, this becomes a serious matter and the Bank should take appropriate action.

Good luck in your attempts to resolve this.

All the best.

I think many people expect “appropriate action” by the police in fraud cases is to file it under “F”.

I echo John Wards sentiments. Whilst Wingman is (in theory) correct in suggesting reporting it to the police, I can confirm now that they will do absolutely nothing with the report, and this will essentially be a complete waste of your time.

John Ward & Reginald Clunes, I acknowledge the Police have been slow or reluctant to act on reports of this nature, but can assure you the tiding is turning and a more robust approach is being taken.

This is primarily due to consumers reporting incidents and a joint effort between Trading Standards and the Police.

The conduct of these warranty scammers has reached epidemic proportions and due to consumers providing clear evidence of fraudulent conduct, both Trading Standards and the Police are taking action against those involved. I agree it’s a long time coming, but the individuals who have been operating these scams for many years are now experiencing the full force of the law.

I haven’t seen any reports in the press to suggest that the police are giving warranty scams [or any other serious frauds against individuals] much attention and have been getting convictions with prison sentences. That is what the public want to see. I remain sceptical about the “action” referred to in conjunction with Trading Standards and what amounts to the “full force of the law” these days.

Our county Trading Standards service issues scam alerts every week but in none of the reports I have read have they said they have stopped one. If the service publishes an annual report I shall be looking to see if any statistics are published. You would think if they were having any success there would press releases flying off the desk. It’s no wonder people don’t bother reporting frauds to the police, especially since no one believes phone calls can be traced retrospectively. Even e-mails can have a fake sender ID.

I agree that all crimes should be reported to the police, but for whatever reason frauds do not command their attention, maybe because they think the banks will reimburse people.

I think the last paragraph is quite pertinent, but concerning as a principle. It hardly acts as a deterrent. I presume house burglaries are in a similar category, since the insurance company pays. And car insurance. When part of my family had 3 cars worth around £130k in one night the police arrived quickly to take statements but then said they were unlikely to be recovered and nothing further happened. The insurance companies paid out, of course.

. . . at the cost of higher premiums both individually and for all with motor insurance, of course.

It is possible that, with the extension of ANPR [automatic number plate recognition] systems to all major roads, more stolen vehicles will be detected but I think the police tend to pursue them to a write-off so an insurance pay-out is still necessary.

What has happened to ‘crime prevention’ as a duty of the police?

A friend had his Range Rover stolen last year and that was recovered by the police, albeit after the insurance company had paid out. It was obviously planned because someone broke into his house stole the keys and then stole the car from his business, about ten miles away. Expensive cars are sometimes ‘stolen to order’.

A friend of mine also had his Range Rover stolen a few years ago from his front drive but it turned up again quite quickly and unscathed. He was very distraught about the low pay-out offered by his insurer but luckily it wasn’t necessary; he had some notion that he was entitled to ‘new for old’ rather than ‘like for like’. I thought at the time he was unwise to leave the keys in an obvious location in the hall of his house from where they were fished out while he was asleep and that might have prejudiced his claim.

I agree that it is unwise to invite crime in this way. Nowadays keyless car theft or relay theft can allow cars to be stolen without even gaining access to the electronic ‘key’ in the house.

Consumers share their experiences to help others or obtain advice during what is often a stressful time for many, especially when they have potentially lost significant sums of money.

It remains essential that consumers continue to report incidents of this nature to the Police, Trading Standards and the ICO. Discouraging consumers to make reports to the Authorities by suggesting these will just be filed and not investigated is thoughtless.

If consumers cease to make reports, this only benefits the rogue companies, so I firmly believe consumers should be encouraged to continue reporting these rogue outfits.

Not all investigations, prosecutions and convictions are publicised and the Authorities have made significant progress.

John Ward – like you I also see no evidence that the authorities are getting a handle on this. If anything since Which? focused on this back in 2018 there has been an explosion in these types of businesses. I am also aware of TS investigations resulting in no further action after lengthy investigations, effectively endorsing the business. If Wingman says they’re not making public their successes that makes no sense to me. However I guess we have to conclude that maybe he is affiliated with one of the agencies he’s referred to so has insider knowledge.

Hi Reginald Clunes, I trust you are well.

Multi-agency task forces are in place to tackle this very problem and although it may appear no action is underway, a great deal of work is taking place to combat the problem. These are complex investigations that require accurate evidence to achieve convictions and as such often take several years to conclude. Naturally we would all like to see immediate arrests and convictions, but investigations of this nature require significant resources, time and effort in order to achieve the required outcome.

We are all aware that Police, Trading Standards and other Agencies are under resourced, so I do think its a little unfair to direct blame at these organisations. Those who have careers in enforcement do so because they are committed to protecting the public, not because they take any pleasure in not dealing with reports of fraud or criminal behaviour.

Change needs to occur from within UK Government to recognise the difficulties the various Agencies face, ensure they are adequately resourced and allowing scams of this type to be tackled quickly while achieving an appropriate outcome.

shhh2000 says:
25 November 2021

My dad (aged 86) showed me a letter on Sunday from UK Service Plan saying he had agreed to appliance cover for 3 years for 3 appliances and they would be taking payment of £784. Said payment has come out of his account he tells me. He vaguely remembers someone calling him and asking him to update them on what domestic appliances he had which he duly did – fridge, cooker and washing machine. The letter went to his address, which he moved out of in 2010 and I now live in. He doesn’t think he gave bank details on the phone but this company may have old address and bank details from an expired policy from over 10 years ago. I now need to try to get that £784 back for him!

Hi Shhh2000. It’s certainly a significant sum of money and if you are of the opinion the company has not acted lawfully then I would certainly challenge the company and try to obtain a refund. It is certainly irregular they did not confirm your Fathers current address.

It would be useful to know how the funds were taken from your Fathers account? If the payment was by Direct Debit, the company must provide notification in writing of the Debit Direct instruction before funds are taken. Failing to do this would be in breach of the required protocol. Does the letter he received advise of a Direct Debit instruction, the amount to be taken and when the funds would be taken? If the letter is simply a schedule of appliances to be covered, this would not be accepted as authorisation from your Father for the company to take payment.

Alternatively, if your Father provided his Bank Card details, then payment might have been taken as a ‘continuous payment authority’. This type of payment arrangement gives a company greater scope to take payments for whatever amount and frequency they choose. If payment was taken from Bank Card information and to avoid further payments being taken, you should instruct the Bank to refuse any further payments of this type, from any organisation. The Bank might suggest you need to cancel with the company, but this relies on the company doing just that and unless you have it in writing they will take no further payments, you could be at risk of further amounts being taken from your fathers account. Cancelling any further payments directly with the bank is the best option.

I hope you are able to resolve this, be persistent and hopefully you should achieve a satisfactory outcome.