The PPI scandal has been well documented with thousands of consumers claiming back their payments plus interest for Payment Protection Insurance they did not ask for, were not informed about or were hassled into buying. Banks and other financial lenders of mortgages, loans or credit cards have put billions of pounds to one side in order to settle claims by angry consumers who rightly feel they were duped into taking on the product.
It is wholly possible to claim this refund under your own steam with agencies such as The Citizens Advice Bureau, The Money Advice Service and The Money Saving Expert offering a superb advice service to consumers totally free of charge. There really is no need to pay anyone to help you get back what is rightfully yours. The process is relatively easy although some of us do become very nervous at the thought of tackling large financial institutions alone.
Consumers who do not wish to embark on this journey alone can opt to employ a representative from a credit claims company who for a fee will do the work for you. Finding a company who is trustworthy and honest is not easy as we can be easily fooled by clever agents from rogue companies who will convince us that they will win our refund with ease while at little cost. The statement no win- no fee is bandied around to tempt us into believing that at little or no cost to us we will receive our money. Some rogue companies say “claim your PPI refund free of charge” which turns out to be wholly untrue. Always ensure that the company you employ has Ministry of Justice approval.
No Win No Fee: I like the Sound of That Offer!
It sounds wonderful doesn’t it? We do all the work and you pay us nothing unless we win. In principle it is quite palatable. The thought of not having to find any money up front is great! In fact it is worth mentioning that consumers should never offer any money up front to companies offering this type of service. They say a fool and his money are soon parted and never a truer word was spoken, so consumers beware on that front.
Of course there are some reputable companies but it is not those firms we wish to discuss, it is the rogues we have to watch out for. These companies are sharks encircling their prey, waiting to pounce. They claim to be there to help take the stress off our shoulders. Unfortunately some consumers have found that not only did these rogue companies take all the money the customer was awarded but they end up with a bill from the representative.
Consumers need to be aware that when these rogues say they will take say 30% (which is a huge cut anyway) that this commission percentage can also be based on premiums the customer would have paid in the future. In one such reported case a customer ended up having to pay the rogue company nearly £900 on top. It is like being conned all over again! Consumers have not only been miss-sold PPI but they have been diddled out of their hard won compensation and then some.
Some of these rogue companies are dealing in millions of pounds every year showing what a lucrative business claiming miss-sold PPI really is. Rogue firms are taking a huge slice out of the PPI compensation fund that was meant for badly treated consumers not for cowboys who make a buck out of any scam they can lay their hands on. The cheapest percentage charged by some of these companies is around 12% but the majority require 25 or even 35%.
Some of these unscrupulous companies have even submitted false claims for PPI refunds causing extra work when it comes to trying to sift out would be fraudsters. The way to go is definitely do it yourself. If you are apprehensive ask a relative or close friend to help you but if you must go down the representative road dig deep to ensure that you don’t end up out of pocket for your trouble.
The Ministry of Justice Fights Back
The Ministry of Justice have announced plans to force Claims Management Companies to repay money to consumers who used them to claim miss-sold PPI. Details regarding these companies have been passed on to the Legal Ombudsman. As the law stands at the moment complaints regarding these companies are dealt with by the Ministry of Justice. The MOJ has no power to recommend compensation payments if they come down in favour of the consumer who is complaining. In 2013 this will change and consumers will be able to claim financial compensation if so judged by the Legal Ombudsman.
We have all had to endure the constant phone calls and texts from these companies regarding PPI while the growing dissatisfaction by consumers has at last prompted action. At last we are seeing some action regarding these companies who promise the earth while having little or no information to back up their claims. The Legal Ombudsman has joined the throng of voices who advise consumers to claim the PPI back themselves rather than engage one of these companies.
Which Magazine has aired its views recently demanding that these rogue companies be named and shamed plus cleaned up so that reputable firms do not get dragged down reputation wise with them. They would like to see a ban on upfront fees, a ban on cold calling, plus all these companies should have to publish their fees and terms and conditions, “here here” I hear you call.
Say No To Cold Callers!
Unfortunately many of us have been subject to cold calling either by telephone mobile or even on the doorstep. It is a fact that cold callers will try to persuade you to take advantage of their unwanted offers being overbearing intimidating and in some cases frightening especially for our older residents. When it comes to PPI cold callers will tell you that you have a claim with little or no evidence of this being the case.
Cold callers will persuade you to give them details in all kinds of ways. They will pretend to be your friend, gain your trust then attempt to sign you up so they can represent you in your claim or even make a bogus claim on your behalf. These rogues have nerves of steel but now building societies are hitting back. They are fed up of bogus claims being submitted by rogue companies on behalf of consumers.
Bogus claims have soared in the last six months by a whacking 247% creating hours of unnecessary work for building society employees. Rogue companies are cold calling customers enticing them with unfounded monetary offers of compensation that in a lot of cases they are not entitled to receive. A whopping 23,000 people have been duped in the last six months into believing they have a claim regarding PPI. This is a phenomenal number and only goes to show how adept these rogues are when it comes to pulling the wool over consumer’s eyes.
When it comes to knocking on doors these rogue companies tend to pin point the elderly who they brow beat and sometimes frighten into agreeing to things. Some even take an upfront fee on the doorstep. Most of us would not comply with such a request but unfortunately some of the elderly, plus also vulnerable people, are very trusting handing over cash in the hope of some reward. What will happen in future to curb these activities we will have to wait and see? Hopefully sooner rather than later something will be done to curb their activities. There are so many scams out there so we all need to be vigilant.
From November 12th 2012 National Consumer Week is launching a campaign along with Age UK called “Cold Calling don’t Buy It”. Supported by Gloria Hunniford and Money expert Martin Lewis it is hoped the campaign will empower the elderly to say no to cold callers.
To find out more go to The Trading Standards: Say No to Cold Calls Campaign.