MARTIN Lewis is warning consumers not to fall for Google adverts that charge you to make a PPI claim when searching for help online.
Victims of the payment protection insurance (PPI) scandal have until 11.59pm on August 29 to submit a claim for compensation.
It’s free to make a complaint but there are many companies that offer to do it for you for a fee.
Now, the MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) founder has issued a warning to watch out for adverts from these kinds of firms that claim to be associated with the consumer champion.
The way Google works is that paid for adverts appear at the top of search results before the “organic” links – the ones that are ranked by relevance.
But the consumer site found readers have accidentally been clicking on the paid-for ads when searching for its Reclaim PPI for Free guide.
It means that some people could end up paying a firm to help them claim compensation thinking that it was advice from MSE.
Because companies “bid” for the top spot on search terms, the exact adverts that come up can change every time you load the page.
But you can spot them by the by looking out for the small green “Ad” icon that’s underneath the link, next to the URL.
Kirsty Good from MSE said: “It can be really easy to blur the lines between an ad and a search result – both look similar and for those who are less web-savvy, mistakes are easy to make.
How to claim a refund for mis-sold PPI
FIRST you need to contact the business that sold you the product and they must respond to your complaint within eight weeks.
If they reject your claim you can then go to the Financial Ombudsman Service to have your case reviewed.
There are plenty of claims handling companies who are trying to get people to complain through them because they can charge a fee, but there’s no need to do this.
Processing the claim yourself means you’ll get to keep all off your compensation.
If your claim is successful, the amount you get depends on your circumstances.
Ultimately you should get back all your premiums plus interest.
Between £300million and £400million has been paid out per month in recent years and the average payout is around £2,000.
“With the deadline to claim PPI looming nearer, those who’ve left it very late are even more likely to end up falling foul of this.
“Check the website address very carefully – if it doesn’t say “moneysavingexpert.com”, it isn’t us.”
Google is now looking into the confusing adverts and encourages users to report ones they think are inappropriate via this online tool.
A spokesperson told MSE: “Because we want the ads people see on Google to be useful and relevant, we take necessary action to prevent fake and inappropriate ads.
Have you been mis-sold PPI?
ACCORDING to the regulator, it is likely you were mis-sold PPI if you experienced any of the following:
- You were pressured into buying PPI or told you must have PPI
- You were promised a cheaper rate if you bought PPI
- You were told your loan or credit application was more likely to be accepted if you bought PPI
- PPI was added without telling you
- You were advised to buy PPI that did not suit your circumstances or needs
- You were self-employed, unemployed or retired but advised to buy PPI
- You had a pre-existing medical condition at the time of buying PPI, which may have affected your ability to make an insurance claim
- You were advised that a pre-existing medical condition was included in your PPI policy (or advised that it wasn’t included)
- It was not made clear that you would pay interest on the PPI if it was added to your loan
- It was not made clear that the PPI would end before the loan or credit was repaid
“We have a tool where anyone can report these ads and these complaints are reviewed manually by our team. In 2018, we removed 2.3billion bad ads and we’re constantly updating our policies as we see new threats emerge.”
The Sun has contacted Google for a response and we’ll update this story as soon as we get one.
We’ve also contacted Fasttrackreclaim – one of the sites using Martin Lewis’ name in its adverts – for a response.
Millions of Brits were victims of the mis-selling PPI scandal, which has so far cost the banks nearly £30billion.
PPI was added to credit products such as store cards, credit cards or mortgages but as many 64million policies were mis-sold between the 1990s and 2000s.
But it’s not the first time MSE or Martin Lewis’ name has been used to trick people into trusting them.
Last year, the MSE team confronted PPI fraudsters who claimed to be them in order to scam people out of hundreds of pounds.
Martin, 45, also sued Facebook after the social media giant allowed fraudsters to use his photo in £100,000 investment scam ads on the site.
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