/ Money

Scam watch: ‘I was targeted after a car accident’

A member received scam calls following a minor road mishap – here’s how to avoid falling into the scammer’s trap.

A Which? member wrote to us when scammers targeted him following a road accident:

‘Several months ago I had a minor car accident. No one was hurt and damage to the other car was minimal, with none to mine.

‘A few days ago, I rejected a cold call and over the next few days there were two others, one of which my wife answered.

‘She was told that it concerned an accident that I’d had. A day or two later, I got a text that said: ‘Great news. We have £2,866.21 in your name for the accident you had, to put in your bank.”

Our advice

Calls promising compensation for car accidents are common nuisance calls. Most people who receive these haven’t been in a car crash, so it’s easier to dismiss the calls. But as you were involved in an accident, it’s good you recognised it as a scam.

The scammers will try to catch your interest with the large lump-sum payment, then lock you in with a seemingly easy claim process. This is just a ruse to get your personal information or your banking details.

No third-party insurance company would ever contact you about a car accident involving you or a member of your family, and you should always question any out-of-the-blue promises of money.

If you want to stop these calls, register your number with the free Telephone Preference Service (TPS), which logs your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls.

Have you received the car accident scam phone call? How did you deal with it?

Comments

I did have an accident but it had been dealt with most efficiently by my Insurance Company. When I started to get calls promising me money for my accident i knew i was a scam because it had been my fault and it had been dealt with accordingly. I took the name and company who were calling me and then i advised them that they were illegally calling me and I was reporting them to the appropriate authority. They immediately rang off, haven’t been bothered since. Also blocked any further calls on my mobile and also on my landline.

I had a similar problem and my claim was dealt with efficiently by my insurance company. However despite blocking the number on both landline and mobile I continue to get phone calls from either different scam operators or they have a variety of different landline and mobile numbers. However, I will try your response next time I get a call. Two years since the accident.

I very occasionally receive a cold call about “my accident” which, in my case, is non-existent. I begin by describing the injuries I sustained, the necessary limb amputation and then pointing out this resulted in my death. It doesn’t take long and they then terminate the call.

Whenever I get one of these calls (which is rarely) I always ask which one, I’ve had 3 recently! Unsurprisingly silence then they hang up.

I do exactly the same thing. I enjoy winding them up with even more detail about the fictitious accidents so that I take up more of their time and they aren’t annoying someone else. Another ploy is to ask where they got their data from…

We had a call saying the computer was faulty and were told they would repair it. The computer was A1. So we told them ” strange, we haven’t got a computer”. Silence. We heard his phone click.

Kathleen Findlay says:
3 January 2019

I regularly get landline calls about my washing machine guarantee. As my machine is 18 years old and I have only spent £30 in repair costs. I ask them to remove me from their call list, but to no avail!

I get phone calls on almost daily basis. Like, “I am calling from Vehicle Registry department. Your compensation amount £7000.00 is waiting to be claimed.” I tell them that I do not have any claim pending and they say all you have to do is to say that you had an accident. I managed to get their telephone no thinking that the police will be interested in catching the fraudsters who are encouraging people to make false claims but the police was not interested. I am a pensioner and so entitled to free TV license but I keep getting emails telling me that my license is about to expire. Another scammer rings me and tells me that, “I am calling from BT and my broadband is going to be disconnected”. I just ignore the calls but they are a nuisance. By the way I am on BT nuisance calls blocker but it is of no use.

Hi Mohammed,

Sorry to hear about this – it sounds very frustrating. You should report these nuisance calls to the regulator. We’ve built a free online tool to do this: https://www.which.co.uk/tools/report-a-call-or-text/

Oscar

I was in two road traffic accidents, May 2015 and February 2016, where other cars drove into mine at speed and both of my cars were written off. I’m still waiting for settlement from the first one as the car and driver were French and even though an order has been made in court there is apparently no agreement between insurance companies in the EU about paying money for the written off car or the hire car I was supplied with. As for the unsolicited calls about taking on legal cases after you’ve had an accident I received dozens of them, and found them quite distressing at times. I’ve also had texts saying that there is money waiting to be claimed if I supply bank details which my solicitor tells me is a well used scam to get people to reveal information to criminals. It’s bad enough being in the accidents and getting life changing injuries without having to deal with all of these complications.

Helen says:
3 January 2019

I had a call telling me that if the lights on my router were flashing it meant that someone was trying to hack into my computer! I nearly laughed out loud. Another time I got them to read me a very long number out then read it back to them slowly and then said I would ring my phone provider to check if this number was correct- result the phone went dead but I felt I had wasted enough of their time. We now have call safe system which seems to have stopped the calls.

When I used to receive frequent nuisance calls I received ones about my accident or recent accident. Sometimes I used to string them along and give brief details before saying that the accident was over 40 years ago and I had obtained compensation.

I can see that anyone who has had a recent accident can be receptive to this sort of call but the way to avoid this and other scams is: DO NOT DISCUSS ANYTHING FINANCIAL ON THE PHONE UNLESS YOU HAVE MADE THE CALL

John Anscombe says:
5 January 2019

I had several phone calls from companies about a genuine but very minor accident when a neighbour backed into our parked car. The companies knew the date of the accident, which was a bit alarming, and promised me money for our injuries (although no-one was in the car) and compensation. I told them to get lost as they were ripping people off. But how did they have the information about the date of the accident?

John, that sounds like a “data breach” somewhere.

From my insurance renewals, I get the impression that UK insurers share a lot of information, including data on past claims. I can see how that would help with risk assessments and the verification of NCB’s.

David says:
5 January 2019

I have had several calls asking about a non-existent accident. My usual reply is to say that as I have no recollection of the accident, I must be suffering from amnesia as a result of injuries, and ask how much I could expect to receive in compensation. Thye usually hang up at that point.

Dean Robinson says:
5 January 2019

Do Which? seriously think that fraudsters check the TPS before dialling random numbers?

I’m sure they don’t.

Also, for any cold calls, starting with “how did you get my number?” can be a good way of getting a call centre slave off-script.

Richard says:
5 January 2019

Last time I had one of these calls promising me £3000 for an recent car accident.I just thanked them and requested them to put the money in an envelope and send it to me.I have not heard another thing

Had several calls about car accident injuries,I wind them up by stating, that I have 3 broken legs,2 broken arms & i am now blind, have a nice day & promptly put the phone down.

I’m reading all these comments but feel left out because, since using BT’s Call Guardian, I’ve not answered one single unwanted call. Yes, they call but the phone doesn’t ring and they are intercepted and stopped in their tracks 🙂

Mark Butler says:
5 January 2019

I do think it’s unhelpful to suggest that the Telephone Preference Service will stop these calls. I’ve been registered with them for as long as I can remember, but the calls keep coming.

Both myself and my wife have received a number of calls, surprisingly on our mobiles, over the past few months in spite of being registered with TPS and rarely giving these numbers out. We noticed that the first series of calls all came from a Leicester area code although a different number each time. Later all of the calls came from the Sheffield area code but again a different number each time. I always block the numbers after the calls but the constant number changing by the caller, presumably some form of number spoofing, makes that ineffective and TPS cannot act either. I always cut these calls off before talking to anybody in the, possibly vain, hope that not answering will discourage the use of my number by them in future. I also frequently use the “Who called me” web service to see if it was anyone important. I note that some people automatically block calls that have no ID but there is a potential problem in that i have two friends whose number does not give an ID plus a couple of our local hospitals who call us have no number ID meaning important calls could be missed.

There is a fundamental breach of GDPR regulations going on here; I have been phoned multiple times following an accident I had last May each claiming to be from a reputable sounding organisation such as the Insurance Ombudsman saying I have a right to a couple of grand for “inconvenience” following my accident. I took this up with my insurance company as the caller had the accident date, vehicle details and my name and address. From these conversations I believe that the shared Insurance database where all accident details are logged by all insurance companies to avoid multiple claims is to blame and is not secure. Details of new accidents are being passed onto scammers by some one (maybe employees of other insurance companies) and the industry seems unable to get their act together to stop this leakage. This should be a secure database and everyone who accesses should have to authenticate themselves so access can be policed. I am astonished the GDPR ombudsman has done nothing to address this – they should fine the industry to make it important to address. I wish Which would highlight this as a criminal security breach on behalf of all drivers.

This is the good news perspective: following a recent traffic incident – in which I was not at fault – I received a ‘cold call’ from the third party insurers. They made an offer, which I believe to have been genuine and which was backed up a few days later by letter, was to have the car repaired at a garage of my choice at no cost to me. I haven’t had the repairs carried out yet but, further to a few emails and phone conversations, I am hopeful of a positive outcome.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Duncan, I believe you are absolutely right in that the callers often have accurate information about the accident gathered from information given to third parties, probably in return for payment.

I believe Which? is wrong in their assumption that these are all scam or phishing calls trying to get you to part with money or to reveal personal details.

I had an accident in December 2014 where the person who hit my car was at fault. Repairs were dealt with and the claim settled quickly by the other insurer (a reputable company). For the next two years I received around 20-30 calls per month from “Claims Services” companies , all at the same time of the month. Sometimes there were even multiple calls from the same company. Even now, I continue to get around 7-8 calls a month. In all I estimate I have had well over 300 calls since that accident (no, I’m not exaggerating!).

As I had so many (and like to waste their time) I have taken the opportunity to ask how they get their information and sometimes have played along with them. I have managed to piece together what I believe is the process behind these calls. As Duncan says, they all seem to be telemarketers working for solicitors; they probably get a “finder’s fee” if they refer a case. The “no win no fee” approach will attract some people to exaggarate personal injury claims – I have had an operator try to get me to make up an injury to “get the money I deserve for paying my premiums for so long”.

I know for sure that the “leak” came from the garage that did the repairs, since the accident date the callers quote me is wrong, but is the date the repair shop (incorrectly) wrote down on their forms.

There are too many details to list here – perhaps a Which? researcher should contact me!

My car was scraped in a car park while I was away shopping. The other driver did the decent thing and left his details with the owner of the car park and my car was repaired within a matter of weeks. This was in October 2017. In November 2018 I received a series of phone calls from an organisation whose name I don’t recall (it was something like The Accident Registry) asking if I wanted to pursue a claim for injury resulting from the accident. I explained on more than one occasion that there had been no injury, so no case to pursue, but still the calls continued. The last such call began with the oh so matey caller saying he wanted to know how I’d been since the accident, what with the whiplash I’d suffered and all. I told him I would repeat one final time the circumstances of the accident and that if any further calls were received I would be making a report to the Data Commissioner, although I don’t even know if anything would have resulted! However, the calls stopped.