Unscrupulous claims firms hoping to make a quick buck at the expense of customers are now facing strict new rules to prevent them from doing so, says claims management firm Missoldppiclaims.info.
Any claims management company in England or Wales wishing to represent a customer in a claims process must obtain written permission in the form of a contract before they do so. Currently, a firm could go ahead with a claim on the basis of a verbal agreement following a cold call or text without having to make the customer fully aware of their fees. Only later when a large amount of money is snatched following a successful claim does the customer realise the extent of the fees, in some cases up to 30% of the amount recovered from the lender.
The new measures, which will be brought in during the summer, will stop this by forcing claims firms (such as those involved with personal injury or PPI) to put their fees in writing as part of a contract with terms and conditions, and then obtain a customer’s consent with a signature.
The Ministry of Justice has cracked down on unscrupulous firms cold-calling customers without permission, stripping some 260 companies of their licenses. Many claims firms use cold-calling to find business on the back of TV, newspaper and internet advertising, encouraging people to make claims for personal injury or other losses. PPI mis-selling claims have been a particularly lucrative area for many unscrupulous companies, with tens of thousands of people making claims that has resulted in the UK banks having to put aside £15bn to compensate customers.
Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group Which?, said: “Although these new rules are a step in the right direction, we think the government should be much bolder in cleaning up the claims industry. Upfront fees should be banned and those in charge of claims firms properly held to account for bad behaviour, with hefty fines imposed, licences revoked and individuals barred from running CMCs if they are found guilty of breaking the rules.”
The changes are not the only ones being made by the Ministry in an attempt to make the industry more professional. Consumers with a complaint can now go to the Legal Ombudsman to have their case heard and obtain help finding a resolution and compensation if it’s justified.
A spokesperson for claims management firm Missoldppiclaims.info said: “Efforts to make the industry more professional have been underway for the better part of a year now, and the Ministry has been making great strides in rooting out the unscrupulous companies. Those that have had their licences revoked make up around a tenth of the industry, and those that remain must now ensure the way they do business with their customers is fair and ethical.”