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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 am in the middle of an attempted fraud which goes somewhat beyond this discussion. I was cold called on my landline and told that I was due a refund on my home appliance warrant. I told the caller that I have never taken out such a warranty and they hung up. The number comes up as dodgy on the checking sites.

The difference is that I have an unexpected pending deposit dated today for £37 in my bank account. I realise that I cannot spend it and the scammer did not get as far as telling me where I might transfer it. From what I can glean this transaction will be reversed as part of this type of scam.

Hi Pete, having read your post, it was unclear what might be occuring. Could you expand on this further please.

You mentioned an ‘unexpected pending deposit’ of £37.00 on your bank account, but to clarify can I assume you did not provide the caller with any Bank details during the call?

Are you seeing this pending deposit when logged in to online banking or when using a banking App or have you been notified of the deposit by email or text message? If the deposit is visible when logged into online banking or a banking App, this would suggest the caller has your Bank account details, but if the notification was received by text or email, it is likely to be an elaborate scam, with an attempt to direct you to online banking with instructions to return the funds to a rogue account. (The funds will not be in your account, but the scammer is trying to fool you into believing the funds will land in your account) and therefore you should reverse the transaction by making a payment to their account.

If the pending deposit notification is visible using online banking or a banking app, this would seem an unusual occurrence. Normally, if it were a Bank Transfer, the funds would be deposited to the account instantly or if the payer had set the transfer for a specific date, the funds would appear in the account on that date, but without any prior notification to the Payee.

If you are seeing this pending deposit using online banking or a banking App, does the pending deposit indicate whether the payment has been made by Bank Transfer directly from another Bank or by some other method, such as a Payment Processor or a service such as Western Union or such like?

I was mistaken, the pending transaction has gone through and I can now see that it is a share dividend. I used to receive those as cheques, now they come in to my bank account directly.

So the telephone call was probably just a standard attempted scam. Only my name and landline number were “compromised” — I am listed in the BT Phone Book. No money was lost.

Hi Pete, I am pleased you established the pending payment was genuine.

It is however essential that consumers report calls from rogue companies as their objective was to obtain your Bank details, which is an act of fraud. As indicated in previous posts, I would encourage you to report the callers number to the ICO. If your number is registered with the Telephone Preference Service, you should also report this to the TPS.

Sarah Rogers says:
20 May 2022

An rather aggressive salesman called to tell me that “We have been notified that the insurance on your boiler has expired”. Interesting, seeing as we don’t even have a boiler! He eventually got tired of trying to intimidate me and rang off. These people are so pathetically transparent and seriously annoying when you are trying to get some work done.

Gary Campbell says:
23 May 2022

Hi there. An uncle of mines in his 70’s just called me up telling me his home appliance insurance company is calling him asking for bank details as they’ve ‘moved his account’. I have now found out he’s being paying National Home Cover for 3 years sadly. I’ve told him to contact his bank right away, and I’ll go meet him and his wife at said bank tomorrow morning to cancel everything/block etc. I will keep you all posted.

Hi Gary, there has been numerous complaints regarding the conduct of the company you mentioned and as you indicated, it would best to cancel any further payments. If the company has been collecting payments from a Credit/Debit using a continuous payment authority, I would suggest that your Uncles cards are also cancelled and new cards issued. Rogue companies will often continue to collect card payments even after a customer cancels the agreement.

If payments have been made by Direct Debit, then cancel the Direct Debit and advise the bank they should check with your uncle first if they receive any new Debit Debit instructions. Rogue companies will set up Direct Debits without the customers authority and assuming your uncle is paying by Direct Debit now, they may well attempt to set up the Direct Debit again.

Hi there. An uncle of mines in his 70’s just called me up telling me his home appliance insurance company is calling him asking for bank details as they’ve ‘moved his account’. I have now found out he’s being paying National Home Cover for 3 years sadly. I’ve told him to contact his bank right away, and I’ll go meet him and his wife at said bank tomorrow morning to cancel everything/block etc. I will keep you all posted.

Sorry about the double post. Just opened conversation account 🙁

Hi Garry and welcome to Which? Conversation. It’s important to discover whether this is a genuine repair company or a scammer.

Edit: I see that Wingman has already identified that the company is genuine but best avoided.

Barbara says:
25 May 2022

I have something to share with u
I have worked in a call center before and i left the job weeks ago because i had no idea they were scamming people i thought it was a real insurance company
The thing is they were asking people for their soft code and account number which im not sure if it is dangerous to share these since they cant take the money out of the account and if anyone could confirm that for me?

Targeting old people and telling them about a discount for their insurance for the washing machine fridge freezer and cooker which some of them assume they don’t have so Its like they just guess the things most people have at home

I had a really bad feeling that i was deceiving old people who could be just like my parents and making a living out of it but no one actually confirmed to me they were scammers since the company seemed to perfect and known that even who work there don’t know but idk I still am not sure if they are a scam or not

Barbara — It is certainly risky for people to give anybody their bank Sort Code and personal Account Number. This information can be used to transfer money out of the account.

I would suggest you contact ActionFraud and report what you were asked to do while working at the call centre. Use the ‘I am a witness’ button on the website home page. Go to — http://www.actionfraud.police.uk

Alternatively you can call ActionFraud on 0300 123 2040.

Please give ActionFraud as much information as you can about the place you worked, the calls you made, and the way the operation worked.

ActionFraud is run by the City of London police and is secure and confidential. Your identity will be protected and the information you give will only be used anonymously for investigatory purposes.

I think they have been caught already just sharing my experience with you thanks for the information 😇

Thanks, Barbara. I think the way you have acted in this is highly commendable.

Hi Barbara,

Thanks for posting your experience. Assuming you had the name and address of the customer you were calling, or this was confirmed during the call, then obtaining the customers sort code and account number would allow the company to obtain funds from the customer by Direct Debit.

If I have interpreted your post correctly, you were asked to call customers and offer a discount on a service plan for their home appliances, yet the customer did not have a service plan?

Therefore, the aim was to fool the customer into thinking they already had a service plan and a discount was being offered to renew. This amounts to false representation and is an act of fraud.

Although you indicated the individuals operating the company had been caught, it is often the case that these individuals operate numerous companies or are associated with others engaging in similar scams. Your experience of working for the company and the inside information you have could provide vital evidence and intelligence to the Authorities investigating these types of scams and as John Ward suggested, I would encourage you to report your experience to Action Fraud.

Alternatively, I could put you in direct contact with an investigating officer who is handling scams of this nature and the information you provide could prove invaluable in their investigations. Thousands of consumers have lost significant sums of money to scams of this nature and any inside information could assist the Authorities in tackling these rogue companies and may prevent others from being scammed in future.

If you would like to be put in direct contact with an investigating officer, please let me know and we can ask Which? to put us in contact privately by email outside this forum. It’s perfectly okay if you wish to remain anonymous, but you should not wish to communicate directly, I would encourage you to report the matter to Action Fraud.

Reginald says:
26 May 2022

Report to Action Fraud? She may as well walk up to the nearest brick wall and report it to them instead. More chance something will be done.

JohnWard says:
26 May 2022

I cannot accept that, Reginald. I suggested that Barbara report her experiences as a call-centre operative to ActionFraud as a witness, so I endorse everything Wingman has said above.

Ken says:
8 June 2022

Hi, a family member of mine who is vulnerable has been pressured into taking out seven separate service agreements totalling almost £1400 since Dec 2021. This has just come to light and it is clear that the apparently different businesses are all connected. All are registered at Companies House with few assets and operate for a short period, are then dissolved and a new company formed with an almost identical name soon after. I am pressuring them to deliver against their agreements although I expect no joy this will force their hand in breaching contract and so expose their fraudulent activity. I can then see what more can be done. Advice welcomed

Hi Ken,
Thank you for sharing your family members experience and sorry to hear that such a significant sum has been paid to these companies.

‘By pressuring them to deliver against their agreements’, can I assume your family member has some faulty appliances and you have requested these are repaired in accordance with the agreement? This is certainly a good way to see if they follow through and arrange repair, but if not and as you suggested, they would be in breach of contract.

If requests to have items repaired are ignored or they agree a date for an engineer to attend and no one turns up, in the first instance you should report these companies to Trading Standards.
Many consumers are fooled into these service plans or extended warranties due to the caller claiming to be the customers existing provider or convincing customers they have a plan which is due for renewal. Their sole objective is to obtain Bank or Card details which is an act of fraud. If your family member was fooled in this way, then you are of course entitled to a full refund.

Customers who complain and request a refund will often be told their refund will be processed, yet the funds do not appear in their account. This is a typical tactic intended to frustrate customers who then find themselves having to call again and be told there was a delay, but the refund will be issued. This will often continue for weeks or months and is intended to frustrate customers in the hope they will give up and write-off their losses. I would suggest requesting a refund by telephone (to gauge their response) and follow this up with an email. Ask the company to acknowledge your email and confirm when the refund will be issued.

If payments have been made by Direct Debit and you believe the plans were set up fraudulently, you are protected by the Direct Debit scheme rules and could claim a refund from your Bank for all amounts paid. If payments were made by Card, it may also be possible to obtain a refund from the Bank depending on the circumstances.

If payments were made by Card, it is not unusual for rogue companies to continue collecting payments after a customer has cancelled, so you may wish to have the Card cancelled and a new Card issued. If payments have been made by Direct Debit, then cancel the Direct Debit and advise the bank they should check with you if they receive any new Debit Debit instructions. A rogue company may well attempt to set up the Direct Debit again.

If these agreements occurred due to unsolicited phone calls, as indicated in previous posts, I would encourage you to report the callers number to the ICO. If your family members telephone number is registered with the Telephone Preference Service, you should also report this to the TPS.

Apologies for going off-topic, but there have been several discussions in this convo regarding the ease by which individuals, rogue companies or scammers can register Bank accounts or use Payment Processors to collect payments from consumers. It remains of concern whether financial institutions are rigidly conducting the required financial, administrative and business integrity checks to approve new accounts and/or monitor existing accounts.

It seems that Barclays are taking welcome steps to tackle this by strengthening their processes. As an existing Barclays Business Account customer of many years, Barclays advised that further verification was now a requirement and failure to provide the required information could result in accounts being placed on hold.

Although I hold both personal and business accounts with Barclays, have done so for many years, they know who I am and have an unblemished financial and business record, it is encouraging to see these extra steps they are taking to further verify account holders and their financial activities.

The verification process to update the accounts was detailed and thorough, taking roughly an hour to complete and I was especially impressed with the background checks that Barclays had already undertaken. In addition to personal checks, it was also necessary to verify extensive business and company information relating to Directors, Shareholders, persons with significant control and VAT registration etc. Additionally, a great deal of information was required relating to business activities (whether the business offers services or goods and the exact nature of these), the origin of funds paid into the account, typical monthly revenue and customer types etc

Additionally, information was required on accounts held with other financial institutions (whether Banks or Payment Processors) and what percentage of business revenue was processed through these other accounts, along with details of overseas transactions. This extended as far as having to specify to which Countries financial transactions would occur, typical frequency and amounts etc.
In addition to business owners or company Directors, extensive details were required for anyone acting as a signatory on the accounts.

Although much of the required information seemed intrusive, if a business or individual is provided with the facility to collect financial information and process payments, whether from consumers or for commercial transactions, it’s essential the Banks and Payment Processors have accurate, verified and in-depth knowledge of the individuals who hold the accounts.

These extra measures were not a form filling exercise and having completed the required information I have since received a response from Barclays advising they will be verifying the provided information and conducting the necessary checks.

I am not sure whether other Banks are strengthening their processes in this way, but robust measures such as this will go some way to address the problem of accounts used by rogue companies or scammers for the purpose of fraud.

Well done Barclays.

Gail says:
16 June 2022

I was called today by a guy saying he was calling from ‘Domestic Appliance’ and wanting to check our account. I blocked the number. He called again on different numbers asking me why i had blocked his previous number and was quite aggressive when i told him we do not accept cold calls. I consider myself to be quite scam aware and a reasonably strong personality but he shook me with his threatening approach, stating it was very urgent he spoke with my husband as it was in his name. I hung up but I dont think he is going to give up easily. He appears to think we already have a ‘plan’ with his company and we owe them money…….we did not share any details whatsoever but hope this helps another person who may get him call them. The number he used was 0800 0073733

Hi Gail. Thanks for sharing your experience.

There have been numerous reports from consumers recently regarding calls from a company introducing itself as ‘Domestic Appliance’ or ‘Domestic Appliance Care’. These are rogue callers attempting to convince consumers they have a home appliance service plan which is due for renewal. Their aim is to obtain Card or Bank details fraudulently.

Generic company names are typically used, so it’s not always easy to establish the true identity of the caller. They use various tactics to fool consumers, one of which are threats that payment is outstanding and immediately due. This often results in a rather abrupt and threatening approach which can be unsettling for many.

These callers are nasty individuals using misrepresentation to fool consumers into providing their Bank or Card details, which is an act of fraud.

I am pleased you were not fooled by the caller and blocked their number. The most effective way to tackle these rogue callers is by reporting the callers number/s to the Authorities. As indicated in previous posts, if you have not already done so, I would encourage you to report the callers number/s to the the ICO. If your number is registered with the Telephone Preference Service you should also report this to the TPS.

I would also recommend reporting the matter to Action Fraud. It’s relatively quick to submit reports online to the ICO, TPS and Action Fraud.

Nick says:
17 June 2022

I received a call today from “Domestic Appliances” to say that my appliance cover was due for renewal and that as I had not made a claim they could renew it for a reduced premium of £20.95. They were a bit vague about what appliances they were renewing and as my washer and dryer are almost new, and my old fridge has never been covered, I was immediately suspicious and asked where she was calling from. The initial caller put me onto her line manager who said the business premises were at 2 Bath Street, Brighton, BN1 3TB. This was presumably random because google suggests this to be a modest residential property. When I asked if I could check the address, the ‘line manager’ hung up on me.

Hi Nick, thanks for sharing your experience. The information you provided relating to the address the company provided may prove useful. It is as you indicated a residential address, but there is not a company registered as ‘Domestic Appliances’ at the address provided.

Rogue companies typically use generic names to avoid detection, so it’s unlikely the name ‘Domestic Appliances’ is in fact the correct registered company name. There is a registered company by this name, incorporated in 2009 and with a Registered Office in Buckinghamshire, but I suspect this was not the company that called you. There are a number of other companies with similar names, some active and some dissolved, so identifying the true identity of the caller is not straightforward.

I am pleased you were suspicious and questioned the caller. Rogue companies dislike consumers who are on their guard and especially those who question them in order to verify their true identity. The fact the caller hung up when you advised of your intention to check the address, is a clear indication this was a rogue caller.

Although rogue companies will often use number spoofing to hide their actual number, it’s possible the callers number may reveal their true identity. If you have not already done so, I would encourage you to report the callers number to the ICO (Information Commissioners Office), who will investigate and take action. If your number is registered with the Telephone Preference Service you should also report this to the TPS.

Links for both the ICO and TPS can be found on previous posts, otherwise just search for the ICO online. Select ‘Make a Complaint’ from the navigation bar along the top of the ICO’s website, then select ‘Nuisance calls and messages’, followed by ‘Spam texts and nuisance sales calls’. Select ‘Start Now’ and be sure to select ‘Sales call from a real person’ from the list and continue to enter the details as required.

It remains essential that consumers report calls of this nature as it provides vital intelligence for the Authorities and should hopefully result in action being taken against those involved in these scams.

Sarah West says:
21 June 2022

Hi, my step father died last month and whilst going through his estate we have found that he had 10 direct debits going out to three, possibly more of these companies (with two being opened just before he died), it looks like he was being scammed for at least hundreds of pounds and we still dont know how far back these payments go. Where do we start in either claiming back the money or at least reporting this/these companies to some kind of ombudsmen?
My step father was very vulnerable, these people are heartless to target the elderly and vulnerable.

Hi Sarah, I am sorry to hear of your step fathers passing and that he may have been targeted by these rogue companies.

As payments were made by Direct Debit and if you believe the plans were set up fraudulently or if your step father was vulnerable, you are protected by the Direct Debit scheme rules and could claim a refund from the Bank for all amounts paid. The first thing to do however is cancel all of the agreements.

You should write to or email each of the Companies advising you wish to cancel and requesting they acknowledge this in writing. However, I would not rely on the companies cancelling the agreements and ceasing to collect payment, but would instead contact your step fathers Bank and cancel all of the Direct Debits. Rogue companies will often agree to or confirm cancellation, but wont actually cancel the Direct Debit and then continue to collect payments in the hope customers do not notice, so it’s essential you cancel the Direct Debits with the Bank.

More worryingly, rogue companies will often attempt to set up the Direct Debit again without the customers authorisation. Unfortunately, by having the account details they can do this, but it is of course fraudulent. But rogue companies simply do not care and will attempt to obtain funds in any way they can. Therefore, after cancelling the Direct Debits you should advise the Bank NOT to authorise any further Direct Debit instructions on the account.

Legitimate home appliance warranty companies are usually registered with the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) as the agreements they provide are essentially an insurance, whereas rogue companies side step this by offering ‘service plans’ instead and are therefore not regulated. Unfortunately, there is no Governing Body for companies offering service plans. However, you can report the conduct of these companies to Trading Standards. You may discover your step father was paying for multiple agreements for the same appliances to the same company or multiple agreements for the same appliances to companies that are associated. This being the case, you should report the matter to Trading Standards.

When setting up these service plans and arranging payment by Direct Debit, companies should follow the Direct Debit scheme rules but most rogue companies do not. It is a requirement for example that consumers must be advised in writing of the Direct Debit, amounts to be paid and the frequency of those amounts before the company starts to collect payments. Rogue companies will intentionally avoid doing this, with the aim of not providing consumers with the opportunity to change their mind and cancel. It’s probably worthwhile looking to see if your step father had any paperwork from any of these companies, service plan agreements or Direct Debit notifications. If you have any concerns that the Direct Debits were set up fraudulently or the companies did not follow the Direct Debit scheme rules, I would advise the Bank immediately.

If these service plans were set up by rogue companies and/or the Direct Debit scheme rules were not followed, you are in a strong position to recover all amounts paid.

If you would like any further advice, guidance or even some assistance handling this, I would be more than happy to help.

I fully endorse Wingman’s advice. I would just add one thing.

Assuming you are the personal representative of your stepfather’s estate [including being either the executor or administrator of any Will], I suggest you ask your own bank [or your stepfather’s if that is more convenient] to set up a new account for all ongoing dealings so that you will have complete control of all moneys going in and out. You could progressively transfer all balances to the new account and arrange for all continuing payments [e.g. council tax, utilities, insurances, etc] to be drawn on the new account and let the original account become dormant and eventually expire when probate has been granted [if probate is required]. I have found the banks to be very helpful when dealing with the affairs of customers who have died and the major banks all have substantial departments dedicated to accumulating available funds and closing accounts to assist personal representatives. They are also good at returning original death certificates if requested in order to save the expense of obtaining multiple copies if there are many organisations to notify.

Excellent advice John Ward, it would certainly make sense for Sarah to transfer all funds from her step fathers account to a new account and either close the old account or allow it to remain dormant for the time being. This would avoid any risk of further Direct Debits being set up on the original account.

Which? has repeatedly pointed out that appliance cover and extended warranties can be poor value for money. Here’s one example: https://www.which.co.uk/news/article/8-financial-products-you-dont-need-in-2022-aYxIm6e7xVJV Buying a product with a longer guarantee or warranty can be worthwhile if this is free or offered at a discounted price.

If you do not pay appliance cover you can afford to ignore the rogue companies and those that are genuine but are in the market to make money, but do report unsolicited calls as frequently suggested by Wingman.

Reginald says:
27 June 2022

Wave change – thanks for linking this.

One thing I take note of from reading through this – D&G are not mentioned once from what I can see? Yet we know they are running a huge monopoly and offer an appalling service and sometimes charge as much as £24 a month through devious ‘auto renewal’ price increases over many years for just one appliance.

This makes me suspicious – does Which? receive money from D&G? I think it needs clarifying because I am amazed the biggest rip off merchants and monopoly of the industry are not referenced once.

Also – don’t let D&G fool you. They offer FCA protection for their accidental damage plans yes, but the regular plans that don’t include accidental damage are just plain old service plans like the so called fraudsters and rogue traders offer. You cannot complain to the FCA about their handling of these plans. Once again, very devious.

I really think Which? should be mentioning the resident monopoly in the article. I find it highly suspicious that there is no mention of them.

Yes, of course Which? should be making consumers aware that D&G has a very large market share, Reginald.

What concerns me more is that Which? has reported dangerous and counterfeit products advertise on Amazon Marketplace (and other online marketplaces) yet often includes Amazon Marketplace as a place to buy products that it has reviewed. It does receive a payment for those that click on links. Likewise, Currys is another retailer suggested despite the number of complaints on Conversation and reports on Trustpilot. To be positive, Which? provides an increasing amount of helpful information about dealing with simple faults without help.

A couple of years ago I received a marketing call from D&G after being passed information about an appliance that I had registered so that I would be notified as recalls. I said that I would report them and I did.

Olwyn McIntyre says:
27 June 2022

I’ve been pestered by someone claiming to be from Domestic Insurance. Most have Indian accents stating that as ive made no claims on my appliances I’m to get a reduction in fees. They want my sort code and account number. I say as ive already got a policy they should have the details and to tell me them and I will confirm. No. They want me to tell them. They state that to give them the details over the phone is OK. Looking at the comments from the bank if that info be given not much can be done with that info except to pay money in. I would like to find out exactly what the scam is. I’m wary to take it further to find out. Can they set up a direct debit for whatever amount they want. They tell me what ive got insured but they are common items, washing machine fridge/freezer. I tell them I dont have a fridge/freezer and the quickly say fridge and freezer and they will argue that is what they said. I then query price as being too expensive. They then get angry telling me they are offering a discount and I’d be daft not to take it. As we do have insurance I know how much it cost to do this. They then say I can include 2 more appliances just like that. I lose it at this stage as they become absusive and angry. Does anyone know what the scam is?

Hi Olwyn, this is most certainly a scam. The scam is they want your bank details to help themselves to your money.

These are just some of the domestic appliance scams:
– Try to sell you a new policy, special price for today only.

– Tell you they have taken over your existing insurance.

– Tell you a 3-year policy was taken out 2 years ago with the first 2 years free and now you owe them for the 3rd year.

– A big discount if you renew now.

– Say you are due a refund and they need your bank details to refund you. If they were genuine, they would already have your details.

– Call themselves names that are very like genuine companies eg. Domestic & General Insurance.

– Spoof phone numbers to appear to come from genuine companies.

– Create believable websites.

Very often scammers just guess at the names of your appliances.

You may have answered a survey. I frequently get called to answer ‘just a few simple questions’ that includes brand names. I have played along just to see what they ask but don’t give them genuine answers.

The rule is:
Never give your bank details to anyone over the phone unless you instigate the call and 100% trust who they are.

Never be afraid to take their details and check up on them. People here are always willing to help.

If you are worried your existing insurance might not be genuine, you are welcome to post their details here.

Hi Olwyn, the answer to your question is YES, these rogue callers can debit funds from your account if you provide your sort code and account number, and they have your full name and address.

They will do this by setting up a Direct Debit instruction on your account.

I would take Alfa’s advice, the rule is:

NEVER give your bank details to anyone over the phone unless you instigate the call and 100% trust who they are.

Olwyn — You have already come across one of the tricks of the scammers’ trade for getting useful information out of people: they tell you something [like a type of appliance or a brand name] that is not correct and you correct them. They now have some more information to add to their profile which could be used again in a future attempt to deceive you.

It really is best not to engage with people who ring you up out of the blue. A lot of people think they are smart enough to outwit the scammers but the fact is we are up against professionals who know the way to talk to people persuasively, they practice and rehearse their pitch continuously, and they are on the phone to people day after day so they are wise to how people react.

Some people think they can tease the scammers and catch them out but it never works; they justify their action [to themselves] by saying it stops the scammers from calling someone else, but in the overall scheme of things that is completely pointless — the scammers have got all day to make more two minute calls. If rumbled, the scammers are still in command and just shut down the untraceable call. Unless the called party terminates the call as soon as it starts they will not only be wasting their own time but also giving the scammer another opportunity to practice their spiel.

Although it doesn’t mention domestic appliance service plan scams specifically, the shocking scale of scams and other frauds in the UK is revealed in this article from BBC News —
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-61979172

It demonstrates that younger age groups [21-30-year olds] are just as susceptible as the elderly and vulnerable groups, mainly on account of their greater use of social media.

The BBC also has a show in which a Mother and Daughter team work together to publicise scams. Although an engaging watch it’s not in the same class as Rip Off Britain and does, I think, miss some important aspects of staying safe online.

The show is aimed specifically at online frauds but the numbers of successful scams are truly staggering, and a great deal more education is needed. One very sad case in the last episode was that of an 87-year-old man who had been scammed six times and lost many thousands.

The show’s format stars with looking at two scam victims, then using white-hat hackers to find out everything they could about the victims for easily accessible information. Almost all had troves of sensitive info, which could be found easily thorough their postings on Facebook.

Interesting point you made Ian regarding the amount of information scammers can obtain about consumers from their social media content and perhaps a warning that many should stop and think about what they post online and whether the information they reveal provides an opportunity for scammers.

Those who use social media as part of their daily lives, will often reveal a great deal about themselves without realising how the information could be used by scammers. There are those who post regular content during their day, keen to let friends, family and anyone else who might be interested know how their day is going. Which coffee shop they just visited, a photo of their favourite cream cake purchased at Asda, their latest clothing purchase from Dorothy Perkins and their plans for the weekend. Small details such as these can be used by scammers.

For some, adding a post about every stage of their day has become the norm. By posting on social media that you have just lost your Bank card and spent 30 minutes on hold to Natwest to have the card cancelled, has revealed who you bank with and provides an opportunity for a scammer to call introducing themselves as your bank. This combined with the knowledge the customer just purchased a new frock from Dorothy Perkins, allows a scammer to ask the consumer whether they used their Bank card at that store, all intended to provide assurance the caller is genuine.

Unless those using social media have the content of their posts restricted to friends and family, greater thought should be given to what is posted and what appears in the public domain.

I suggest that we should assume that anything we post online could remain accessible indefinitely.

Back in 1995 I responded to a letter in a magazine which asked if there was any interest in setting up an email discussion group. From memory there were about 25 of us. Soon after this was merged with a Usenet newsgroup, which is still around as a Yahoo group, albeit little used. I can easily find comments that I posted more than 25 years ago. Even with Which? Conversation, comments are accessible after more than 10 years.

As Wingman has said, it is easy to collect information from their posts.

Assureprotections .Co .uk

Have taken £399 out of my mother’s bank 8 months ago. I can’t get a refund and bank won’t help as apparently its too late.

Companies house showed this company hasn’t been running long and has 3 directors. All based in Brighton. I have a good mind to show up to there offices.

Hi Paul,

Depending on the circumstances you may be able to obtain a full refund.

Could you confirm how the funds were debited from your Mothers account? Were funds debited as a single payment, processed from Bank card details or monthly by Direct Debit?

Could you also confirm the circumstances, did your Mother receive a cold call by telephone, did your Mother already have a service plan or extended warranty with another provider and was your Mother fooled into thinking this was her current provider and renewed accordingly. Did your Mother receive any documents by post or email?

There are some aspects of the company that appear irregular and this may also assist in obtaining a refund.

If you could provide some further details, I can advise whether it would be possible to obtain a refund and what steps you would need to take.

Cold call, she is with domestic and general already. My mother claims they said they where renewing her domestic and general cover. Banks won’t do anything I rang them today after seeing your post.

Hi Paul, could you confirm how the funds were debited from your Mother’s account? Was payment taken from Card details your Mother provided or by Direct Debit from bank account details provided?

Rogue companies use this tactic of advising consumers who already have a service plan or extended warranty that they are the provider and the plan is due for renewal. This is misrepresentation and an act of fraud.

Could you also confirm whether your Mother received any documents?

Based on the fact they claimed to be your Mother’s current provider and fooled your Mother into renewing (at which point they probably asked her to confirm her Bank or Card details), their conduct was fraudulent and you are in a strong position to recover the money.

If you could confirm how the funds were debited, Card payment or Direct Debit and whether your Mother received any documentation, I can advise further.

In the meantime, I would strongly suggest you also report the matter to Trading Standards, which you can do online via Citizens Advice consumer help.