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Cold-callers are pressuring the vulnerable into paying thousands of pounds for bogus insurance cover.
Victims are coerced into signing monthly direct debits of around £10 or £20 to cover household appliances such boilers and washing machines.
Consumer body Which? polled 1,300 of its members and found almost a quarter had received unexpected calls relating to insurance or extended warranties in the last year.
Cold-callers are pressuring the vulnerable into paying thousands of pounds for bogus insurance cover
The callers reportedly tell victims their policy is expiring and needs to be renewed.
Some claim to be from well-known companies and many have access to personal information which makes victims believe the calls are genuine.
One 92-year-old grandmother paid £10,000 for two years of cover, including for a dishwasher she did not own.
Gareth Shaw of Which? said: ‘If you or someone you know has been cold-called about appliance cover, ask for the company name and report it to the Information Commissioner’s Office.’
Victims are coerced into signing monthly direct debits of around £10 or £20 to cover household appliances such boilers and washing machines
An investigation by Which? found several companies crop up time and again, with many based in or linked to Bournemouth or Poole.
The consumer group named KG Assist, Home Utility Services Ltd, and Appliance Cover UK – which has since been dissolved – as the worst offenders.
They have since been reported to National Trading Standards which is investigating. None replied to requests for comment.
Many of the firms’ websites look very similar, and callers tend to use one company name on the phone while another appears on bank statements.
Anybody who has been duped into agreeing to a direct debit or had one set up without their permission are entitled to claim back money from their bank.
Which? advises that nobody buy insurance from cold callers and instead should purchase it directly from regulated firms.
Mr Shaw added: ‘Our investigation exposes how a network of unscrupulous firms are targeting vulnerable people – in some cases charging thousands of pounds to cover appliances that don’t even exist.
‘If you are being inundated with cold calls, ask your phone network if it offers any call blocking services.’
Source: Daily Mail