/ Money

What is the 'Consumer Refund Service'?

When a member received a letter from the ‘Consumer Refund Service’ they got in touch with us to make sure it was legitimate. Here’s what we told them.

The letter the member received wasn’t directly addressed to them, but said they were potentially owed a PPI refund of £3,219.

According to the letter, this is the average amount its customers get from PPI refunds, and that it would be free to check if the member was eligible.

The letter looked legitimate and professional, as did the company’s website, but the member told us they’d learned by now not to trust any promise of money from out of the blue. They asked us ‘could this be a scam?’

Claims management companies

The Consumer Refund Service (CRS) isn’t a scam but a claims management company. 

For a fee, these companies will handle PPI claims on your behalf. CRS, for instance, will take a hefty 24% cut of your refund – so if you received a payout of £3,000, for example, it would take £720.

However, CRS has no way of knowing whether you were missold PPI unless you give it more details.

Fortunately, you don’t need to pay a claims management company to handle PPI claims. Instead, you can use our free tool, which sends your claim directly to banks and lets you keep every penny of your compensation.

How to deal with junk mail

As the 29 August deadline for PPI claims approaches, it’s likely you’ll see more of this sort of marketing. If you want to stop it, register with Royal Mail’s door-to-door opt-out service.

Read our guide to stopping unwanted mail

This won’t stop mail addressed to ‘the occupier’, however, so write ‘unsolicited mail, please return to sender’ on the envelope and post it. This will force the sender to pay return postage and might put it off sending you more junk mail.

Have you received unsolicited mail from a claims management company? How did you deal with it?

Comments

Amelia advises us to send junk mail back to the sender, on the basis that they will have to pay the return postage. Back in the 1980s I did this regularly, without knowing whether they would pay or simply reject the mail. Do the senders of junk mail really pay up? If so, it would not take many people to act to make it not economically viable to send us junk mail.

Anyone who was stupid enough to pay for PPI in the first place is probably stupid enough to use a claims management company. That is the problem here, which the claims management companies exploit.

You might upset a large number who were mis-sold PPI by calling them stupid. 🙁

Maybe the stupid ones were the banks that mis-sold PPI or are now paying out to customers where there was no mis-selling.

A lot of people did not know they were buying PPI cover. The details were wrapped up in the small print of the terms & conditions of their loan or purchase contract. It should have shown up in their bank statements, of course.

Because of appalling record-keeping by the banks they have had to accept liability for compensating people for mis-selling because they were not in a position to prove that there was no PPI cover. This has cost the banks [and ultimately all bank customers] colossal sums in PPI compensation much of which might not have been justified or might even have been fraudulent. This was aided and abetted by the claims management companies that exploited the bank’s delinquency.

Although PPI often features in our discussions, I cannot remember any discussion focusing on this issue. In the same way that I do not like energy companies forgetting to mention that we don’t have to have smart meters fitted, the PPI claims companies don’t usually make it clear that we should only be claiming if PPI was mis-sold.

If you have a mortgage then having PPI might be wise in case you lose your job and could be at risk of losing your home.

For many of us, current account services have always been free so I suppose that those who have had to bear most of the cost of unjustified and fraudulent claims are those who pay overdraft charges.

I agree with what you say about poor record keeping, John, but I’m not happy with claims being made without evidence of mis-selling of PPI.

Curmudgeon says:
24 March 2019

I don’t think that they are to worried though, money will be coming out of customers pockets anyway. They just hike up banking fees. Simple!

The banking regulatory authorities imposed the form of PPI remedy on the industry and, sure enough, a bunch of parasites came along to take advantage of it. I don’t know the figures but my guess is that the total amount of compensation paid out for PPI mis-selling exceeds the total value of insurance cover actually provided many times over.

I have had letters from claims companies telling me that if I have ever had an account or a loan with a long list of banks and other providers it is likely that a PPI Compo claim would be successful. Although the cost of the compensation might not directly impact on current account charges it has affected the operating expenses of the banks and possibly emerges in the form of lower interest rates on savings, higher rates and worse terms for loans and overdrafts, the continued maintenance of branches, and the provision of ATM’s. Whether it has had any impact on the pay and bonuses of bank directors and managerial grades is questionable.

Indeed, as wavechange has mentioned, let’s be careful with the language used to describe people please – we don’t want to upset people here. PPI was a mis-selling scandal on a huge scale with many completely unaware of it at all – the fault lies with the perpetrators, not the victims.

The fault does lie with the perpetrators but I wonder how many “victims” have jumped on the bandwagon of easy money, relying on the banks to give in rather than fight a claim? People who knew what they were buying, accepted it at the time but now……. I do not condone mis-selling at all but the scandal here seems to be the lack of effort by the banks to refuse claims, maybe because they lack adequate records. Who really pays? The customers in the end of course.

trevor jones says:
27 March 2019

what a load of rubbish the banks are haveing to pay lol we tried lots of times to claim ppi back from our banks but get fobed of they cannot find any files they would need agreements ect ect we are now in our sixtys i know they got away in our case and now i have currys have been chageing me two dish washers cover iv had 3 diffrent answers when iv phoned them now they seid that i had two dish washers but one was cancled iv asked for a copy of the delivery note and was told id have to go to the strore and get them to print one off but that as it was so long ago they might not be able too ? they will send me a refund but will take 20 days to send a cheqe >

I can’t agree about it not being a scam.

To avoid the MPS this organisation send out letters in manila envelopes addressed to the householder. I’ve just had to deal with one my elderly father filled in assuming this was an official letter he was required to complete because of this deliberately misleading tactic. We sent a letter refusing authority and requiring the removal of his info under GDPR. Not head anything back yet.

The name itself is designed to mislead.

Finally, they have been issuing their normal letterhead in Scotland. This states they are registered as a claims management company with the relevant part of the government – it offers security to respondents by pretending the company is properly regulated. The only problem with this is, until 1st April, that service does not apply in Scotland and there is no regulation in Scotland. This claims seems like it should be illegal then? I passed that query to the FCA, who take over regulation on 1st April.

I read some of the trustpilot reviews on these people and it doesn’t seem at all clear cut about how they interact with the money. .

Phil G says:
27 March 2019

The Consumers Association has to be really careful about how it expresses views in cases like this. Libel suits await the unwary. However, as ordinary private citizens, you people reading this, and I, know that the way these people operate, their letter heads, their behaviours are grossly misleading. It’s a pity that our regulators don’t have the time and resources to take a much more assertive stance with what is plainly dodgy behaviour. The scandal of banking behaviour in this area (and I used to work for a major bank and I was proud of my own area) is now being matched by the scandal of uncontrolled parasitism that has grown up around the cleanup operation.