Skeletons in the life insurance closet

Letter published in FT Adviser 14th April 2011

Clive Ringrose’s article on the purchase of mortgage leads, titled Great Expectations (FA, 31 March), was very useful and informative, but advisers should also be very careful that they are not financing criminal activity.

I have no doubt that my recent discoveries in the life insurance lead market, are equally occurring with mortgage leads.

I recently conducted a Google search for: life insurance from Legal & General. Quite naturally the L&G website was top of the search results, however when I clicked the L&G link I was diverted to a series of bogus life insurance websites. These sites were seeking customer details to sell on to brokers. The technical issues of why this is happening is not the concern of this letter, the only concern is that it is happening at all.

In every instance these websites had no contact or company information whatsoever, a breach of internet trading rules. One site published OFT and data protection licence details, but when checked, this information proved false.

Clicking the link for my company’s website that deals with specialist short-term life insurance, I was diverted to such a site where I completed the on-line form. Twenty minutes later I was called by a broker trying to sell me cover. The broker gave me the name of the company that sold the lead, however they were unable to provide any contact details. Checking this company’s website failed to identify who they were.

The question has to be asked how brokers buying these leads are performing their due diligence checks?

Of more concern, what is happening to these customers and their very important personal data? They are being exposed to the risk of identity theft or worse.

Having been made aware of these matters, the FSA state these matters do not concern them and are for the search engine providers to deal with. I fail to be persuaded by such an argument.

Bob Cook

Platinum Financial Consulting