Insurance Frauds: Landlines Turning into Land Mines


Manpreet Singh / Cyberspace

  • Landline phones are being used by cyber criminals to launch vishing attacks on senior citizens luring them with insurance claims received or pending. If the senior citizen picks the bait the same land line transforms into a financial land mine and rips across his financial savings.
  • By the time bubble bursts, the victim has lost a few lakh in the hope of getting a few thousands and the idiom “penny wise pound foolish’’rings in the ears.

In the world of sophisticated gadgets overcoming monolingualism through a device that translates language on the spot, internal heating technology to keep your cup of coffee hot or eye glasses that transcend the real world with visual content there still exists the buzzing sound of traditional landline telephone.

This simple instrument transmits signals converted from audio data through physical media, such as wire or fibre optic cable has acquired a unique feature. It is being used by cyber criminals to launch vishing attacks on senior citizens luring them with insurance claims received or pending.If the senior citizen picks the bait the same land line transforms into a financial land mine and rips across his financial savings.

While the landline phones are moving towards becoming obsolete they have become the most profitable business for fraudsters in acquiring sensitive information through the well designed social engineering attacks. A landline phone rings breaking the eerie silence as almost all family members are out on professional errands.The phone receiver is picked up by an elderly person who is balancing his life in his memories of pre liberalisation era and the present time of cyborgs and cyber criminals.

The caller introduces herself as a government official from the department of insurance informing the senior citizen regarding the flaws in his present insurance policy and how she will assist in ensuring the right amount is deposited in the account. The sweet voice of a girl in a government department trying to assist the senior citizen strikes the right cord and the bonds of friendship are fastened.

The caller gives a pseudo name and starts gathering information about the victim ’s family and bank accounts. She also starts guiding with regard to the investments to be made to save taxes.This new tax guru has found another disciple. Then begins the process of circumventing the trapped victim into sharing monies alias guru dakshina citing different frivolous reasons and getting the amounts deposited in fake accounts.

The “tax guru” is also willing to get the cash collected from the door step as a customer friendly gesture.

By the time bubble bursts, the victim has lost a few lakh in the hope of getting a few thousands and the idiom “penny wise pound foolish’’rings in the ears.

Word of Caution:

Advise the elderly persons in your family qua the latest frauds of fraudsters trapping by calling on landline phones.They should also abstain from interacting telephonically/in person with strangers or representatives of any financial institutions seeking personal information.

Insurance Frauds Types

Application Frauds: In the case of application fraud the customer deliberately fills certain information wrong so that his insurance premium remains low. Although initially he is able to trick the company to charge a less premium yet during any future claim by the insured the said misinformation/incomplete information can create havoc. The company can cancel his claim application citing wrong information.Later if the customer takes the plea that he was not aware of the importance of certain information or was misled by the agent; it is not considered. Law is very clear that ignorance of law is no excuse i.e “Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat”.

Forgery

A forgery in a Insurance case happens when a person other than the insured makes certain changes in the contract details like amount payable at maturity or the name of the beneficiary.

In case of an unfortunate happening the newly added beneficiary raises the claim and uninvited litigation starts.The person who can challenge the claimant is the insured who is now in the other world.

Pocketing Premiums

Some scrupulous insurance agents hoodwink the insured persons by routing all payments through them. The alibi of service gesture prevents the insured customer from doubting his integrity.He registers his own mobile number with the insurance company, collects the policy document either at the office address or at his house address thereby preventing any information to reach the customer. Since he is himself collecting the premium cheques blank; he cheats the customer and misuses the funds.

Note: If you do not receive an SMS confirmation from the policy insurer of cash deposition or if you have not received the insurance policy document it is a signal that you are in hands of a cheat agent. Immediately contact the insurer and raise a dispute.

Free look Period :Another important fact is that all insurance contracts have a free look period clause wherein if the customer is not satisfied with the product sold he can get the said insurance contract revoked /policy cancelled in 15 days of policy issuance.

Health Insurance Billing Fraud

The health care professionals also resort to certain practices in an attempt to dupe the insurance company. The patient has a breathing problem and is made to undergo certain tests not related to the problem or certain tests are marked in the prescription which are not carried out but claimed. The customer believes he is not at a loss and raises no ire on the issue. Reality dawns on him when he is made to shell out a higher premium amounts in the subsequent payments.

Faked Death Fraud

In a fake death fraud the insured meets with an unnatural death while visiting a hill station or owing to an illness. The wife or beneficiary apply for the insurance amount. Once the said amount gets deposited in the account; soon the wife or beneficiary are nowhere to be found.The insured has in reality created fake death certificate and concocted the entire sequence of events to falsely claim the insurance amount.

Upselling Fraud

The insurance agent sells the customer a policy which is more than his requirement.The reason is that the agent earns a higher amount of commission from the insurance company if the amount of premium is higher. Thus up selling is misinformation that is wrongly shared with a gullible client and fleeced to shell out more moolah.

Remember

  1. Do not trust an insurance agent blindly .Check/Acquire a copy of his IRDA Licence and his employee ID with the present insurance company
  2. Fill the complete details in the insurance application form.Any false or incomplete detail shall stall the claim at a later stage.
  3. If you are guided by the agent to provide a wrong input like incorrect facts about your health or drinking habits so that your premium is less; do not follow his advice.This is the exact ground they shall state on the happening of an eventuality to stop processing your claim.
  4. Keep a complete set of the entire documents filled by you.
  5. If you do not receive your policy document within 10 days of your premium check clearance; immediately contact your insurance company.
  6. The financial transactions are informed through an SMS by the bank & the insurer on the registered mobile number.If you do not receive the SMS from the insurer; check for details filled in the form.
  7. Fraudsters initiate a fraud by first changing the personal details like the address of correspondence, the registered mobile number of the insured & the email ID of the insured.If either are missing; you are a potential victim.Immediately approach your insurer and take necessary steps.
  8. Cross check the antecedents of your agent with the company he is representing.You might have been trapped by a fake agent.
  9. For any claims or making any changes in the name of the beneficiary or correspondence address do not route the request through the agent.Visit the company office and ensure necessary changes are added as requested.The legal maxim Caveat Emptor i.e “Let The Buyer Beware”making the buyer responsible for necessary due diligence should be always kept in mind.
  10. Use the free look clause in the insurance contract within 15 days of policy issuance in case you are not satisfied with the product purchased.

Insurance Protected Life is a Happy Life.

Manpreet Singh is an Advocate in Punjab & Haryana High Court and Financial / Cyber Expert With Punjab Police and Neighbouring State Police Departments.

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