Haunted by debt collection threat
My wife and I have lived here since we retired in 2004. Yet we have received letters from Hastings Direct addressed to someone who doesn’t live here. I have written to Hastings Direct but it is not responding. It is, however, writing to the stranger at our address saying that, if the outstanding balance is not paid, it will pass his file to a debt collection agency. JB, NORTH YORKS
I understand that someone had set up a policy online using your address but giving a different name.
Further to my involvement what turns out to have been a fraudulent policy has been cancelled.
Hastings Direct assured me you wouldn’t hear any more about this.
It said: “We are committed to tackling fraud and invest significantly in our anti-fraud systems and team who, so far this year, have taken action against 33 ‘ghost-broking’ rings.”
Ghost broking takes several forms but usually occurs when an individual or group posing as an insurance broker will offer bogus insurance policies that are too cheap to be true. These “ghost brokers” initiate policies for a fee on behalf of customers using some genuine and some false details in order to bring down the premium.
They will complete an application with an insurance company, often
using an address in an area rated low risk by insurers. Small ventures usually operate by word of mouth, perhaps in a pub or launderette. Sometimes they advertise on social media.
Often they target young people who face high premiums or people for whom English is not the first language and who don’t understand how insurance works in Britain.
More often than not they ask the person buying the policy for the full amount in cash. This sum will exceed what the insurer is paid. It will often be just the first month’s premium rather than the annual one the “policyholder” thought they were paying for.
When the insurance
company detects that the policy is false it will cancel it. The person who has bought it may know this has happened only when they go to make a claim or try to query something about the policy.
Otherwise a policy may simply be forged.
You can learn more at insurancefraudbureau.org or via 0800 422 0421.