Ghost Brokers, also known as Illegal Insurance Intermediaries, are people or organisations who sell policies which are not worth the money they are written on.
The fraud can work in a number of ways including:
- Buying a policy from a legitimate company but using false information to reduce the price
- Buying a policy from a legitimate company, taking the money from the customer but paying the genuine company with a stolen credit card
- Providing false documents to a customer but not purchasing any insurance
When this happens there are a number of potential outcomes including:
- Your policy may be cancelled by the provider with no cover deemed to have been in effect
- Your car may be stopped by the police resulting in a non-insurance conviction, the car being impounded and potentially even crushed by the authorities
- You will have to buy a new policy with very little chance of getting a refund from the first policy from the ghost broker
- You may be liable for any injuries or damage caused in an accident whilst the original insurance policy was in force
How to beat ghost brokers:
- Do not buy a policy from an unusual source such as Instagram or Twitter or even in the pub
- Use a recognised, FCA registered insurer or aggregator, such as Confused.com
- Read your documents carefully when you receive them to ensure they are accurate
Identity TheftHow can your identity be stolen?
Identities can be stolen in a number of ways including:
Phishing (also known as Smishing, Twishing): Phishing is the use of authentic-looking but fake emails, often claiming to be from trustworthy organisations, such as banks or tax authorities, e.g. HMRC. It is a form of social engineering, designed to convince you to respond and reveal sensitive information.
While the emails may look genuine, their purpose is usually to convince you to click on a link through to a fake website, which also looks convincingly like the real thing.
The fake website will ask for ‘confirmation’ of your security details, or prompt you to enter personal information. When you supply your details, they are fed back to a criminal to use fraudulently.
Some phishing emails contain attachments which may contain data-stealing viruses. Once you’ve opened or downloaded these attachments, it can unleash malicious software (or malware) onto your system, causing damage or capturing information to send back to the person behind the attack.
These can also happen through phone calls, texts, tweets or other communication methods as well as more traditional methods of raiding dustbins or stealing your mail.How can you protect yourself?
There are a number of ways to make your data safer including:
- Shredding all letters, envelopes and receipts before putting them in the bin
- If you fail to receive documents you were expecting, such as insurance documents, bank cards or applications for services, contact the Royal Mail and get this investigated.
- Check your bank and credit card statements regularly looking for all payments you don’t recognise, of any value.
- If you move home, arrange for your post to be redirected to your new home so your mail isn’t opened by someone else.