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Fraud is being attempted, yet the police won’t act

Fraud is being attempted, yet the police won't act

Fraud is being attempted, yet the police won't act

There’s a spate of cold calling going on from some companies claiming to be Recently we reported one obvious scam to the police, yet we were told they wouldn’t do anything until someone lost money. But surely we should stop it BEFORE that happens?

In the past we’ve had companies trying to use our name to help their sales. This clearly infringes our trade mark so it’s easy to head off (see MSE wins battle over "Money Claiming Experts"). Yet the new range of scams seem to have taken a nastier turn.

We believe scammers are trying to get people to hand over cash up front for services that will never appear. They generally seem to be from overseas and mention issues such as bank charges, life insurance and other similar things.

We’ve had one case of a lady in Australia who has contacted us after losing money. There are also a growing number of people emailing our address who have told us that they have also received calls here in the UK. Having managed to get hold of one of the phone numbers, we called up and heard them describing themselves as "Money Saving Expert".  

Yet the frustration is, when the MSE lawyer spoke to the police, they told her they will not treat the calls as fraud unless or until someone has actually lost money (ie. not received the service for which they have paid) and in any event, our understanding is that it is the person who has lost the money who must report the fraud, not us.

We’re open to ideas via the two comment options below…

Related articles:


Npower’s lying salesmen tried to persuade my staff I back it!

Npower's lying salesmen tried to persuade my staff I back it!

Npower's lying salesmen tried to persuade my staff I back it!

The lying Npower sales reps chose the wrong house. They turned up at MSE Adam’s home, one of our senior web developers, and tried their spiel on him. So, it’s over to Adam to tell you more…

MSE Adam

MSE Adam

I was just popping out to an orchestral rehearsal when two Npower sales guys arrived at the door.

They gave a nice spiel about having the best tariffs and no lock-in clauses and to sum it up they gave the great line of: ‘…and Martin Lewis off of Daybreak backs us too’.

This made my wife and I smile, especially when I told them that I worked for Martin.

Their faces were a picture and not knowing what to say, or do, they decided to ask whether I still wanted to switch. The cheek!"

It’d almost be funny if it weren’t yet another incident where a spate of imposters or liars has been making false claims of endorsement (see the Beware MSE cold callers news story) from me or the site. (For the record, with gas and electricity I always suggest that you should do a comparison before switching, see the Cheap gas & electricity guide.) 

The golden rule is – if you didn’t hear me say it, or if you haven’t read it on the main section of the site – then don’t trust that we really back it without checking first.


Should MSE be recommending the ‘best PPI claims handlers?’

Should MSE be recommending the 'best PPI claims handlers?'

Should MSE be recommending the 'best PPI claims handlers?'

Reclaiming payment protection insurance (PPI) has gotten much easier since the banks threw in the towel a month ago and put £6 billion aside to pay out consumers. But claims handling agencies are leaching on top of this, charging 30%+ to process claims most people can EASILY do themselves. We currently have a ‘don’t use ‘em’ stance – yet some are using these companies anyway and there are scammers out there – so should we tell consumers the least worst and most legitimate?

I’ve been wrestling with this for a long time and would like your views. When the banks put their hands up I thought, as reclaiming would become much easier, claims handlers would go away. But the opposite has happened, they’re on a huge marketing push. For example, one of my team, who has NEVER had PPI received this outrageous text…

Wow! Free Message! Important! Our records indicate you may be entitled to £3,750 from mis-sold insurance. To claim reply, Yes"

Of course, everything needed for DIY reclaiming, including template letters, is in our PPI reclaiming and credit card PPI reclaiming guides. There are also other consumer groups, like Which? that offer reclaiming info for free too.

Yet, the claims handlers still have enormous customer numbers perhaps dwarfing even our own, and we’ve had 1.2 million template letters downloaded. But before looking at the options, I want to spell out my stance…

  • Is it ever worth using claims handlers?

    There are some exceptions in our view to the ‘never touch them’ rule. If you are functionally illiterate, so that filling out forms is impossible, have mental health issues where the stress may be too much, or have a rare case of pre-2005 non-bank mis-selling, which means it’s not covered by the FSA so you’ll need to go to court – then using a claims handler may be your best route.

  • How much do they cost?

    I was shocked at a report by BBC1 Watchdog the other day, which found that many claims handlers charge well over 30% now. So, on a typical £1,500 reclaim this means claims handlers get a huge £500+. This is ludicrous considering a good chunk of people are due to be contacted by their bank to be told they were mis-sold. Plus, many others can reclaim by simply using information on the web and at most it involves going to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

    Some claims handling firms even charge an upfront fee, which is a complete no-no. If you are going to use a firm, at least make sure it’s on the basis of no win, no fee with a max 25% success fee.

  • There are serious scammers out there

    Not all claims handling firms are dodgy, in my view they’re just often vastly over expensive for what they do. Yet, there are certainly some very bad apples out there and we’ve seen many people duped into handing over money and never receiving a service or a refund.

So do we retain our blanket ban?

The problem is a pretty simple one. We don’t like claims handlers for PPI on the whole, but people do use them and it’s bang in our territory. Some of them are dodgy, so should we be researching or telling people which the cheapest and most legitimate are (of course having first said DONT USE)? Or does that conflict too much with our ‘don’t use them’ stance?

In past brainstorms with my team, before the banks threw in the towel, we did come up with a couple of radical ideas on how to do this – I even contemplated calling Which? and mooting a joint project for the following…

  • Setting up our own claims handler. If people want it, why not do it for them non-profit, with as low a fee as possible? Though I worry this is too close to being a product provider and I simply don’t have the personal resources to run and manage something this big – which is also a wider reputational risk if I put my name to it.
  • Setting up a panel system with redress. We could have a recommended and policed system of providers, (with a price cap on their charges) with dedicated staff spot checking and policing policies. As well as an in-built redress system where we could adjudicate people who haven’t been treated well. To do this though, we’d need to charge the claims handlers a fee to be a member to offset the large costs.

Both of these are pretty radical and a step away from what we do now. A cut down version would be writing a guide on claims handlers and their charges and monitoring feedback on them, although again this doesn’t give any real surety apart from on reputation and cost.

My worry is, that with whichever method we choose, it’d be tough to do without giving the wrong message that we’re pro claims handlers.

I would love your thoughts via the forum or comments links below.

Related blogs

  • PPI Twitter clinic questions and answers
  • My PPI day diary – paps, snaps, clips and facts
  • How many times? "If your bank says no to PPI reclaiming, it’s not a failure!"

  • Warning! Don’t believe imposters working for “Martin Lewis” at Spanish airports!

    We’re starting to get reports in from both Alicante and Malaga airport, that a few people have cropped up saying they’re working for me, and doing surveys about PPI misselling. This is a lie and a fraud, and with one exception (see below) everyone should walk away from them.

    How their scam works…

    The following is one e-mail I had from a lady who had been approached by a company calling itself Life Style…

      “A very friendly woman approached me in the restaurant area at Malaga airport at around 12.30 on Monday 6th July. She held a clip board and said to me “have you heard of Martin Lewis, the guy on TV?” I said yes and she said “I am carrying out a survey on his behalf to help people that have been mis-sold insurance, can I take 5 minutes of your time?”

      I said yes and she then continued to distract me with comments about how she liked my T-shirt, my bracelet and what colour was my lipstick. I was obviously still in “holiday mode” and would not usually take part in surveys, but as she said it was for Martin Lewis I guess I put my guard down.

      She showed me a questionnaire sheet that she had on a clip board with the company name “Lifestyle” in blue lettering across the top. I explained that my partner is a financial adviser therefore I understood the subject of mis-sold insurance but that I could probably not give her any information as I have not had any personal experiences myself.

      She then said “That’s OK if I can just take your details a member of our team will give you a call”. I then stupidly gave her my name, address and email address and then signed the sheet to say that I was happy to receive a phone call.

      To date I have not received any phone calls but I have received no end of junk emails which I would assume have been sent due to me providing her with my email address. As I said before, I generally do not give out my details but on this occasion I misread the situation.

      Luckily I think that it has only resulted in my email address being used as a marketing tool, but thinking about it if she had of asked my date of birth she may have been able to use my identity in some way.”

    Please DO talk to them.

    If you’ve read this and you’re a reasonably confident person who gets approached by this company please do play along.

    We’re desperately trying to get any info we can on who they are, exactly what they’re saying, and especially, contact details. So if you’re in the airport and this happens I’d love your help to try and get whatever info you can.

    Comment and Discuss

    ThinkJessica Campaign: Fighting Scam mail

    I’ve been contacted via GMTV by the founder of the ThinkJessica campaign, which has been set up by the daughter of the victim of a hideous scam mail to try and stop something similar happening to other people. She wants me to record the voicemail message that people get when they call it up.

    Before I explain my dilemma, here’s the original email contact… (I hope she doesn’t mind me reproducing it):

    “Dear Martin

    I launched the Think Jessica Campaign on GMTV (July 08)

    Following that I have had a lot of media coverage on ITV, GMTV, BBC TV & Radio, National News Papers and links from many government websites including Help The Aged and Age Concern.

    More recently I have spoken at the House Of Commons and was also invited by the Attorney General (Baroness Scotland) to attend the NFSA launch. (We were both interviewed on GMTV on the day of the Launch)

    This link to an interview I did on Breakfast should tell you what its all about.

    Basically we are raising awareness to scams and warning people not to reply. The terrible consequences suffered by victims who have had their names but on suckers list can be read in the gallery

    We are looking for a recognizable (trusted) voice for our recorded message phone line.

    This phone number is going on posters in Banks/Building societies across the country, The NEW poster is currently being designed but it is sharp/clear and will get the message across

    SENDING CASH to release a prize/unbelievable offer

    STOP… RING THIS NUMBER (min rate BT landline call charge)

    Please could you help us warn all those who may be tempted to part with there cash, by recording the phone message for us.”

    Now of course this sounds a fantastic cause and very worthy of supporting. I’ve written before about my anger of sales calls to my grandma and this is something I want to support. My problem is the phone message is an 0871 number, something which as people will know from the saynoto0870 guide, I’m not exactly a fan of. So, what to do?

    I called…

    Funny what writing a blog can do. I stopped myself at that point and decided the best thing to do was pick up the phone and talk to Marylin about this issue directly. After talking to her, I found her inspiring: she’s a battling campaigner, doing this on a shoestring as a one (wo)man band, determined to make a difference after what she’s been through. And she’s already made progress…

    I spoke about the 0871 issue, which is in her words “not something I knew about, I’ll try and get it changed”. I’m not sure quite how easy that will be for her in the short term, especially with no funding just yet (I suggested a few avenues to try, including the MSE Charity). Yet with the number of scams increasing I think it’s best we just get on with it; the damage they do to people’s lives far outweighs the phone number issue.

    Comment and Discuss