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Thousands of motorists might have fake insurance

AWARENESS: 'Ghost' car insurance scam

RIGHT NOW, there are probably motorists in their thousands who don't realise that their car insurance is worthless.

That's the verdict delivered by investigators who have uncovered a widespread scandal in "ghost broking". This is where fraudsters posing as genuine brokers trick drivers into purchasing "too good to be true" car insurance policies that, often at inopportune times, are exposed as fake.

Sky News reports that, in the last three years, detectives have been sent over 850 reports of this scam. City of London officers believe that, over that time, victims have lost £631,000 in estimated collective total. However, with drivers often taking time to learn that their insurance is invalid, the true number of people who have fallen for this scam could be significantly higher, the force noted.

How "ghost brokers" fool drivers looking for insurance

"Ghost brokers" have used various tactics to pull the wool over their victims' eyes. These techniques have included buying an authentic insurance policy only to speedily cancel it before pocketing both the refund and the money which the driver has paid. Other tactics reported by the police have included forging insurance documents or falsifying driver details to lower the price.

The scammers most often target men aged in their 20s - such as through contacting them on social media platforms including Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp. They also place advertisements on money-saving forums, student websites, marketplace websites and university notice boards. They may also sell policies in newsagents, clubs, pubs, bars and car repair shops.
Dangers of falling victim to this scam

According to detectives, drivers sometimes only realise the deception upon trying to make a claim on their insurance in the aftermath of an accident. Alternatively, the driver may be stopped by police - a highly problematic situation given that driving with a lack of valid car insurance is illegal. A driver found guilty of this can be fined or have their vehicle taken away. Points could also be added to their driving licence.

How to help yourself avoid a "ghost broker"

Given The Sun's report that each case of ghost broking costs the duped motorist £769, it is clearly in your interest to avoid becoming a victim. Fortunately, there are ways in which you can indeed minimise the chances of being fooled. Those include trusting your instincts - be wary of offers that seem "too good to be true" - and treading carefully in places where ghost brokers most commonly advertise.

You should also be concerned if ghost brokers contact you only through phone or email - or, for that matter, messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and WhatsApp. Fraudsters may opt to limit their communication channels in a bid to avoid being traced.

Should you be uncertain about a particular broker, check with the Financial Conduct Authority to see if they authorise that broker. There are still safe ways of saving money on vehicle insurance; for example, the FCA-authorised Call Wiser can compare multi bike insurance to find an especially financially appealing quote.

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