Beware of fraudulent calls in the name of insurance regulator

Written by fe Bureau | Updated: Sep 5 2014, 08:33am hrs
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda) has cautioned policyholders against a rising number of fictitious calls in its name. Typically, such calls claim that Irda is distributing bonuses to policyholders out of the funds invested by insurers with it. Often, existing policyholders are informed that

money in respect of their policy has been fraudulently transferred to someone else and, to get it back from the regulator, they need to submit certain signed documents.

Irda has declared that it is not involved directly or through any representative in sale of any kind of insurance or financial product, and it does not invest the premium received by insurance companies. Moreover, the regulator has clarified that it does not announce any bonus for policyholders or insurers.

In a recent circular, Irda said it has put in place a grievance redressal cell in the consumer affairs department, an Integrated Grievance Management System and Irda Grievance Call Centre to provide an alternate platform for registering grievances against insurers. Irda, or its officials dealing with Grievance Management, do not make calls in relation to complaints lodged with Irda as it plays a facilitative role and does not adjudicate upon or investigate into such complaints. Any person making any kind of transaction with such individuals/agents will be doing the same at their own risk, says the circular. The regulator has urged the public to remain alert and not fall prey to scams perpetrated by miscreants who impersonate as employees or officials of Irda or other insurance companies.

Irda has received complaints of calls advising customers to subscribe to a fresh policy after surrendering the existing one and wait for a few months after which the fresh policy would

be entitled to additional returns/benefits. The calls also inform policyholders that the survival benefit or maturity proceeds or bonus is due under an existing policy and investing in a new policy is mandatory to receive such dues. Customers are advised to invest in insurance policies to avail of gifts, promotional offers, interest-free loans, and so on.

Typically, the fictitious caller would call a person repeatedly and introduce himself as an employee of Irda and inform him that proceeds of his policy have been transferred to some other person by mistake. The caller would suggest that the policyholder visit the regulator's office in Hyderabad or Delhi and meet a particular official. The caller would also give the mobile number of the 'official' . If one calls on the given number, the person on the other side would introduce himself as an Irda official.

The so-called official would then inform the gullible policyholder that the regulator is holding the money. He would ask the policyholder to engage the services of a particular company and deposit an account-payee cheque in its name and submit his PAN, first page of the policy document and address proof. The fictitious caller would suggest that these documents be couriered and details of the despatch. including docket number etc, be furnished to them. Irda has cautioned policyholders that if they receive any such calls, they must lodge a police complaint.