A "Progressive" mystery

I got a call from Progressive Insurance today. Somebody has filed a claim against my policy… the one I opened only three weeks ago. Supposedly someone was driving my car Monday, and there was an accident. I told the lady that nobody was driving my car yesterday, it was parked in my garage all day. Nobody else drives my car, ever, and the name of the person who filed the claim is not somebody I know. She asked me to photograph my car from all four sides, plus the VIN. I’ll do that in the morning, and send them to Progressive. I hope that satisfies them, that the car was not in an accident Monday.

Is there anything else I need to do?

I would be concerned about a possible scam. I would call the customer service number on your insurance card and discuss it with them.

Not sure what kind of scam it could be, but best to be wary.

I agree. Don’t send anything until you call the real Progressive.

Ditto, it may simply be an accident/typo that caused it to be reported on your policy, but I’d still call the number on your card and go from there. If they still want the pictures, then I’d be fine. I’d probably make sure you get the license plate(s) in the pictures as well as the VIN, from far enough back to be able to see the color of the car.

If they still say it was your car, or that the person reported it being your car, then you probably need to get a copy of the report and take it to the police station (your PD and/or the PD in the area that the ‘accident’ occurred. If you’re lucky, it was a mistake, there was an actual accident and the police/accident report will show you weren’t part of it (or at least there’s an obvious mistake on it).

After that, I’d think, would be to file a report with your PD for insurance fraud.

Also, I’d think time is of the essence here, the longer this drags out, the easier it would be for someone to claim you already fixed your car.

It’s weird enough that I think I’d insist on an adjuster coming out to inspect the car and take the photos. In the meantime, I’d quickly take the photos and email them to myself to at least get them timestamped in case the garage collapses or whatever.

I don’t think I’d send anything identifiable about the car until you (the OP) calls Progressive back on a number you were able to verify separately - i.e. if the caller said “respond to us at xxx-xxx-xxxx”, do NOT use that number.

If there’s a scam at play, someone might be able to use your VIN and licence plate number somehow to do something wrong. You don’t want to make it easier for them. In fact if the caller is a scammer, they may have been doing so specifically to get that info to perpetrate something.

If the person claiming to have had an accident in your car specifically mentioned your name when filing the claim, that (to my mind) rules out someone accidentally mistyping a policy number.

I don’t know if it’s a scam or not but the only way Progressive would know your car was in an accident is for you to provide your insurance policy information to somebody. And you didn’t. So something is fishy.

I would agree, don’t send anything until you call Progressive at their customer service number.

A while back there was another thread about insurance and it was mentioned that in some states the DMV would have that information.
So far as I know, in my state the DMV doesn’t keep that info on file, so I have no idea how easy it is for a random person to attain it.

However, if someone were to contact their own insurance company and claim that you hit their car, their insurance company could probably come up with it.

It could be that they want the pictures so that they could ‘sell’ your car on Craigslist, or somesuch.

Contact your insurance company/agent on a verified phone number and don’t send anybody anything until you verify.

Progressive doesn’t need to ask you for your VIN. It’s already on the policy.

Presumably they want a picture of the VIN to prove the car in the pictures matches the one the insurer has on file. In any case, it sounds odd enough to me that I’d follow the “verify” advice given above.

Did the person who called you tell you the license plate number of the car, or give any sort of identifiable description of it? If it were real, they’d almost have to give you that, because plenty of people have more than one car, and they’d need to let you know which one they were calling about. If, on the other hand, the caller was a scammer of some sort, they probably don’t yet have that information. They could just be calling random phone numbers and guessing that a lot of them probably do have Progressive insurance, and so would fall for it.

I would assume it’s even moreso to prove there isn’t any damage to it.

Also, WRT people suggesting this is a ruse to get pictures of the car, could a scammer just walk up to it and take their own pictures. Maybe not of the OPs car if it’s in a garage, but there’s plenty of cars parked out on the road that you could take pictures off without anyone even noticing you.

Their *own *known number, obviously, not the one on the phone call. Absolutely call and confirm it, right away, and also for the reason of letting them know there’s some attempted fraud going on with your account, very possibly others too. The record of that contact protects you in case the scammer comes back, and also lets their security people get on the case.

No, the pictures themselves would not be the end game, but more of a “foot in the door” to gain legitimacy so the rest of the con can unfold. Not at all saying this is what I happening, but it is a possibility.

It’s been about a day and a half since the OP, any updates available?

Most states do keep a database of insurance policies in force on a particular VIN. Not just currently, either. Insurance Guy has access to that database and can even see stuff like who has insured that VIN throughout its history–company, policy number, other people residing in that same household, and what other cars are insured and with whom in that household; who is/has been the registered owner of that VIN, where that VIN has been garaged, surely some other info I’m not thinking of right now. Hack that database and you’ve got some useful information. For instance, with just a license plate number, Insurance Guy can identify the registered owner, the address, the insurance history of that car; and then cross reference that data to also identify other cars registered at the same residence, those plates & insurance, as well as the owners’ names, SSNs, DOBs, date of death (when applicable), addresses lived at by those names & SSNs, who else has lived at those addresses in the same time windows…all going back to when the data base was created (I’ve looked back as far as the late 90s I believe). Oh, and you can also tap into claim history. There are a handful of states that don’t feed the database, but I couldn’t tell you which ones.

In addition to the weird Craigslist style scams, this could also be something more simple: someone wants to pin their car’s collision damage on someone else. I saw this from time to time as an adjuster. Scammer reports the claim, and badgers the adjuster to make a decision to inspect and pay for the damage. Protocol is for the adjuster to contact the insured first, but sometimes the insured doesn’t return calls because, “WTF? My car wasn’t in an accident, that must be a scammer posing as my insurance company.” Meanwhile, scammer is really getting nasty with the adjuster (who is criminally overworked and underthanked anyway). Harassing calls & emails, multiple times a day, very foul stuff sometimes, bonus points if scammer has a really thick accent but refuses an interpreter because “Me English much good, no need translator! Just fix car you big stupid!” Some adjusters can’t handle it and just reason: “Well, my insured isn’t calling back. Surely they would if someone were falsely accusing them. This one must be legit.” And then they go ahead and pay the claim.

Trust. But, verify. Call Progressive from your known number.

UPDATE: After a few phone calls, it’s been discovered that the person filing the claim typed her policy number incorrectly. It’s one digit different from mine. A mere typo. Case closed.

Oh, good. It’s good to know this case wasn’t sinister.