Protection  

Insurance cold-calls under the spotlight

When I asked if I would hear back from someone to talk to me on the record about their operations, I was told a financial adviser might call me “possibly by the end of the week or so”. No financial adviser has called.

The FCA has been notified. While the regulator does not comment on individual matters, the watchdog has done a lot over the years to educate consumers about cold calling and scams. 

This has been done through its multi-year scamsmart campaign and a dedicated section of its website https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart

It also has specific advice on how to avoid scams https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart/how-avoid-investment-scams

Alain Desemir, founder of Contact State, said he set up his company to tackle cold-calls such as this. 

Contact State has been calling for greater protections for consumers over their data and on lead generation. It has also warned advice firms and insurers ‘buying’ leads to be careful about where these leads come from.

He commented: "Any unsolicited call of this nature is an Information Commissioners' Office breach. 

“One of the things I've been trying to make companies aware of is that if they are buying 'hotkeys' (the marketing term for telephone-based activity where a consumer is transferred as a live call) they could be found liable by the ICO if they turn a blind eye to how these businesses are acquiring their data.”

Financial Adviser called the insurance review and validation centre number again to put these allegations to them and to seek a right of reply. 

After asking to be put through to Stacey, a call centre operative said there were “no Staceys working in that office”. He then spoke to a manager who told me she was in a different office and would call me back; I asked to be put through and the line cut off. 

I called again at 1:33 and spoke to a lady who said there were ‘many Staceys’ working there and she would look to see who the right person was that I needed to speak with. Stacey called me back within a minute of this call. 

The company was asked why they have been cold-calling, what lists they are using, whether they are in breach of ICO guidelines over data and whether they could provide their FCA number.

She said: “I will tell you what we will do. We apologise for disturbing you with an unsolicited call and will take your name off the lists.”