Gareth Shaw, Which? Head of Money, said:
“We’ve heard dozens of stories at Which? from people who have been the victim of ghost brokering, sometimes being conned out of hundreds of pounds or discovering that some aspect of their identity has been woven into a stranger’s car insurance policy.
“There are some telltale warning signs that you might be speaking to a ghost broker, these include if they are using price comparison sites for quotes, don’t have a website or landline number you can contact them on and don’t appear on the Financial Services Register on the FCA’s website.
“If you receive suspicious correspondence from an insurer relating to a policy you don’t own, it’s possible that a fraudster has used some of your details. Don’t panic, but make sure you contact the insurer and Action Fraud. We’d also recommend keeping an eye on your account and checking your credit report for any searches you don’t recognise.”
Notes to editors:
If you’re unsure whether the company you’re dealing with is real or not, look out for these telltale signs:
They use comparison sites to get quotes for you: A legitimate broker wouldn’t use a comparison site to find you an insurance deal. Real brokers have direct relationships with the insurers whose policies they sell. Additionally, it’s against the T&Cs of most comparison sites for anyone but an actual customer to use it.
You can’t contact them on a landline phone: Ghost brokers are often only reachable via mobile phone, social media or messaging apps. A genuine insurance firm should be contactable by landline.
They don’t have a website: If they can’t be found anywhere other than a simple social media profile then you’ve no way of checking whether they’re a legitimate company. This should be a massive red flag.
You can’t find them on the Financial Conduct Authority website: If the broker is legitimate, they should appear on the Financial Services Register on the FCA’s website. If you can’t find them here, alarm bells should be ringing.
Between November 2019 and January 2020 Which? tracked 40 Instagram profiles that touted cheap insurance and appeared to be run by scammers.