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My elderly parents were conned out of £284 over home appliances insurance

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My parents, who are in their 80s, attempted to contact their domestic appliances insurer, National Home Cover, when their dishwasher packed up. They were unable to reach it by phone or email. It turns out they had been notified by a scam email in April that their previous insurer, Domestic & General (D&G), had been bought out by National Home Cover, and they were asked to pay £284 to renew the policy. An online search flags this company as suspect. The modus operandi appears to be to target the elderly or infirm, take their money and then ignore any attempts at contact when a claim is made.
IM, London

Insurance scams that target elderly householders have soared during the pandemic. A common ruse is for cold-callers to claim they have taken over from D&G, the country’s largest warranty provider for household appliances. D&G says there are currently 23 injunctions against such scam companies. “The intelligence we have suggests that these rogue traders have similar strategies,” it tells me. “Some of the individuals in control of the enterprises are often involved in a number of different scams.”

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Campaign group Which? says a number of the scam companies it investigated are “based” in Brighton and Hove, which is where National Home Cover claims to operate. In fact, the addresses are PO boxes. Adam French of Which? says: “We suspect that unscrupulous firms are working together to target vulnerable people – in some cases taking four-figure sums every month to cover appliances that don’t even exist. While the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued warnings, some firms simply reappear under different names.”

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No one answered National Home Cover’s customer service line when I called, nor was there a response to my email. Brighton and Hove Trading Standards confirmed it was investigating. Fortunately, your parents’ bank, Lloyds, refunded the premium. Anyone else who has been scammed should also make a claim via their bank which, if it has signed up to the contingent reimbursement model, is pledged to refund stolen funds. Consider whether you really need the cover, which often just duplicates manufacturers’ warranties. But if you do, choose a company registered with, and therefore regulated by, the FCA.

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