5 Characteristics of Untrustworthy Insurance Quote Sites
Unless you have been living under a rock for most of the past decade, the fact there is a bevy of scam sites out there should come as no surprise to you. Insurance sites are no different. Insurance quote scam sites have one of two objectives — either they simply wish to steal your data, or they will actually sign you up for a policy and take as many payments as they can until they are shut down. Many fake insurance sites can be identified with the same red flags as any scam site, such as poor production quality, fishy contact information, a lack of independent third-party confirmation that they are who they claim to be, shady regulatory and ownership information, and, if the site has been around long enough, hundreds of negative comments posted throughout the web.
- Poor production quality: Scammers realize that the majority of their sites will not last a year, if a few months. In addition to that, they don’t exactly have a high opinion of their victim’s web savviness. Most of the scam web sites out there will look as if they were put together over an afternoon, and will commonly contain spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. It’s mistakes in the text that really give them away, because so many free templates are available these days that many of these fake sites have rather slick looking graphics. Another thing to watch out for is outlandish promises and supposed freebies given to new clients. No sensible person should take an offer for a chance to win a free IPad if the cost of entry involves giving out your full name, real address, and birthday.
- Unreliable contact information: Many online shoppers are familiar with the safety precaution of avoiding getting into an email exchange with someone claiming to be from a company yet they are using a free email account. Yet if the only contact details listed are for emails, even if they point to that site’s domain, it should still be a big red flag. Most hosting providers will offer email services ending with the site owner’s domain. Such emails are just as anonymous and untraceable as any found on the free email providers. If a phone number is listed, give it a call and test to see if it works. If an insurance website doesn’t have anyone to pick up the phones at two in the afternoon on a Tuesday, then it’s probably not a company you should want anything to do with, even if they were legit. If an address is listed, a Google maps search can be performed in seconds. There are many cases of people getting ripped off by shady websites, and when trying to send a letter realized that the listed address would place them in the middle of a river.
- No identity confirmation: Many industries have organizations that companies involved in that industry join to establish credibility. Make sure to browse various insurance industry organizations and verify that the company you have doubts about using is a member. The Better Business Bureau is often confused with a reliable source of identification. Remember that it is a private organization and does not require members to submit much else than the membership fees. Don’t be fooled by that “B” rating the company has either — they start everyone with that. By the time victims start complaining, the crooks have already set up another shell company, paid their fee, and are carrying on as before. It’s just another cost of doing business to them. That is not to say that you should rule out a company just for bearing the BBB logo, but do make sure to dig a little deeper. Click the logo and verify how long they have been a member. If they still have a “B” rating or higher after five years, then it’s unlikely that they are selling your data to spammers or running off to Polynesia with your monthly payments.
- Shady ownership and employee information: While many web site owners take advantage of anonymizing services such as whois, a legitimate insurance company would be advertising its agents on every corner of the web. Much like realtors, insurance professionals rely very much on personal touch, as building a relationship with the client is a stepping stone to the client purchasing more products. Just enter the name of one of the major insurance firms in a professional social network like Linkedin, and you will see hundreds of agents listed, most of them with links to blogs and other online means of promotion. If an organization is hiding its people, it’s either because its people are up to no good, or it doesn’t have any people in the first place. Look in the contact and ”about us” section of the website. There should be names, each with their own number and email. It doesn’t hurt to search Linkedin for the same person either. While some of the craftier scammers will create fake social network profiles, the norm is to create many poor sites without much support rather than a few expertly crafted deceptions.
- An abundance of negative comments: The web is a double-edged sword for scam artists. While it enables them to purport a con on a global scale, the news that it’s a con can spread globally at the speed of light. Gone are the days when a snake oil salesman could move on to the next town before customers started getting sick. Simply typing in the website you are fact-checking into Google, followed by the word ”scam” or ”review,” will bring results. Bear in mind that few companies ever achieve 100 percent satisfaction. Searching one of the majors is sure to bring up some angry rants. If you get several pages worth of forums that are all revealing eerily similar tales of woe, then by all means take the benefit of the previous victim’s experiences and get out with an intact pocketbook.