Another win for Mis-sold Claims Assist

The team here at Mis-sold Claims Assist work extremely hard to gain successful outcomes for clients who have been mis-sold financial products. Often people come to us after experiencing financial hardship due to mis-sold products and we work tirelessly to help them gain a successful outcome and their money back.

Many of our clients come to us after suffering financially due to fraudulent companies who charge exorbitant amounts of money for services they have no intention of performing. This is exactly what happened to our clients today, who were persuaded to attend a high pressure sales presentation for a lifestyle and concierge service.

In 2016, they were invited to attend a short presentation and in return they would be able to enjoy a short break away in the countryside free of charge. They attended the meeting as promised but did not expect to be held there for nearly an entire day whilst the sales representative explained the benefits of signing up to a lifestyle and concierge service. They were told during this meeting that this package would allow them to access multiple exclusive offers annually, whereby they could book discounted holidays, flights and accommodation at exclusive hotels and locations. In addition to this they would also have access to a private online account where they could book these holidays and also have exclusive access to other highly discounted items.

When our clients asked how much this would cost they were shocked when they were told it would cost them £10,000. They explained they could not possibly afford this and the sales representative went away and came back with a lower offer of just under £9,000 but explained that this offer was a one time deal and was only available on the day and if they signed up there and then. Our clients felt under an immense amount of pressure during this meeting to make a decision on the spot. They were not given time to go away and think about it nor were they given time to discuss it alone between themselves.

Eventually they agreed to pay and signed up to the service by paying a large deposit and transferred the rest of the money when they returned home. It wasn’t until some time later when they went to access their ‘exclusive account’ that they learnt the company had gone into liquidation meaning none of the services they were promised could be performed and they had lost nearly £9,000. In fact the company were being investigated for fraud and the owners had decided to close the company leaving behind unhappy customers, many of which were thousands of pounds out of pocket. Our clients were left in this situation, unsure of what to do next and how to get their money back.

Luckily, they were directed to contact the team here at Mis-sold Claims Assist and we have been able to claim all of their money back plus interest. This scenario is incredibly common as many fraudulent companies operate schemes just like this whereby they promise services they have little to no intention or providing or that simply are not worth the money and do not meet customers expectations. There are many ways in which financial products such as these are mis-sold and it depends on the way in which it was sold. If you have experienced a similar situation and feel you were wrongly sold a product that caused you financial hardship or stress then get in touch with the team here at Mis-sold Claims Assist. We are experts in dealing with these types of claims and can help you get your money back plus interest.

Timeshare scam victims will be compensated

Unfortunately, timeshare owners not only suffer because they are largely mis-sold in the first place but often desperate owners wanting to offload them are targeted again by fraudsters looking to take advantage of their situation. Timeshare scams are extremely common and cause a lot of distress to victims who can lose thousands at the hands of unscrupulous companies. It then leaves owners out of pocket and wondering where to turn to next and who to trust.

Over in the Unites States timeshare scams are extremely common and officials do not seem to be able to stop the stream of scammers who spring up just as quickly as another is shut down. Florida is the homeland of timeshare and many of the scam companies operate in the State scamming victims all over the country. The reason there is so many scam companies in the States is mainly since there are so many owners, in fact over 9 million people own timeshares in The United States. Unlike the UK and Europe there is also a fairly buoyant resale market as well, this has created another opportunity for scam companies to target people who want to sell their timeshares.

In Florida, The Attorney General’s office has acted fiercely against the growing stream of scammers and are naming and shaming those that are caught taking money from innocent people. According to an investigation by the Orlando Police Department a company named as Paramount Property Professionals targeted timeshares owners over a two-year period, claiming to be able to sell their unwanted timeshares. The company contacted owners out of the blue claiming they had buyers ready to purchase their timeshares, when in fact the reality was, they did not have people lined up they simply took large marketing fees from victims and left them high and dry. The investigation also revealed the company claimed to issue refunds if timeshare sales were unable to complete, but none of the elderly victims received refunds and were simply fobbed off by staff.

The Attorney General’s Office stepped in and took the company and its owner to court. The owner pled guilty to defrauding more than 50 people and was ordered to pay nearly $90,000 in restitution for victims that were targeted. He was also sentenced to 11 months in prison for his fraudulent scheme and the company was shut down. Detectives working on the case said: “This company knowingly defrauded victims in Orlando and state-wide, most of whom were elderly, using a scheme to sell or rent their timeshares. We are happy that we were able to give some of the victims the satisfaction of getting their money back and knowing this individual will be spending some time in jail.”

Only use a reputable authorised company: We speak to clients daily, who have been through the turmoil of a timeshare scam. It is heart-breaking for many people and can leave them out of pocket, financially strained and sometimes in debt. With so much at stake it pays to do a bit of research. Is the company you are thinking of working with regulated by anyone? Sometimes they say they are but check this out too as this is very common. You can check the Financial Conduct Authority register for registered companies and also your local trading standards.

Finally, if you do find yourself the victim of a scam or you have been cold called by a company claiming they can help you, report them. If the authorities are made aware of rogue companies and people complain they can investigate and possibly take action to stop future potential victims from being scammed out of their hard-earned cash.

Huge claims could be brought against unfair ground rents

Back in September last year The Competition and Markets Authority launched enforcement action against 4 of the biggest UK based housing developers.

 

Barratt, Countryside Properties, Permission Homes and Taylor Wimpey are all being carefully investigated by the CMA after they uncovered worrying evidence that leasehold properties may have been mis-sold to homeowners. The CMA is concerned these 4 developers have been mis-leading buyers about unfair contract terms. In March Taylor Wimpy and Countryside Properties were told to change their contracts which forced people to pay increasing ground rents. These people often signed up to contracts but did not know the rents would increase or that leases could be extended without their knowledge.

 

The issue has been highlighted again this week as a woman has brought her conveyancing firm to court over what she says was a failure on their behalf to inform her of the incremental increases in ground rent on her property. She is pursuing a negligence claim against the firm who failed to inform her of this information and because of this her property is unsellable.

 

Carol Patterson said: “I just feel so frustrated that something I worked so hard for and saved for has no value at all now. I bought this flat as an investment for my pension. The ground rent for Buckingham Palace wouldn’t be as much as what I would be paying at the end of my lease.”

 

The Competition and Markets Authority have said they are looking into the following areas in relation to the selling of properties and mis-leading buyers:

Ground rents: developers failing to explain clearly exactly what ground rent is, whether it increases over time, when increases will occur and by how much.

Availability of freehold: people being misled about the availability of freehold properties. For example, the CMA found evidence that some people were told properties on an estate would only be sold as leasehold homes, when they were in fact later sold as freeholds to other buyers.

Cost of the freehold: people being misled about the cost of converting their leasehold to freehold ownership. When buying their home, the CMA found evidence that some people were told the freehold would cost only a small sum, but later down the line the price had increased by thousands of pounds with little to no warning.

Unfair sales tactics: developers using unfair sales tactics – such as unnecessarily short deadlines to complete purchases – to secure a deal, meaning people could feel pressured and rushed into buying properties that they may not have purchased had they been given more time.

Unfair contract terms – ground rents

The use of unfair contract terms that mean homeowners have to pay escalating ground rents, which in some cases can double every 10 years. This increase is built into contracts, meaning people can also struggle to sell their homes and find themselves trapped.

The CMA will publish their findings once the investigation is complete and all the parties mentioned have had time to respond to complaints. If it is found companies have been mis-selling homes with unfair contracts, it could open the doors for a flurry of complaints against developers.

Sub-prime lender closes after surge in compensation claims

Provident Financial, which has been lending money to people for 141 years has announced it is to close its doors or sell its lending business. The firm had been struggling for several years and in 2019 reported losses of £21 million, however figures recently published shows the firm made a £75 million loss in 2020.

There has been a steady decline in the payday loan industry since Wonga and Quick Quid collapsed in 2018 after complaints about lending led to a surge in customers seeking redress. Complaints were based around affordability and customers complained they sold loans that they could not afford which left them with extra interest and charges. Complaints were also made about how companies dealt with customers who were struggling to pay off high interest loans.

Many of these payday loan companies came under fire from The Financial Ombudsman Service, who saw a 250% increase in complaints from disgruntled customers. Many of these complaints were upheld by the service who seemed to favour the consumer. In March this year, Provident wrote to their customers to inform them that they would possibly go into administration because of a surge in compensation claims. They also explained how they were facing regulatory investigation by The Financial Conduct Authority about whether or not the firm carried out affordability checks before lending to people.

What is a sub-prime loan?    

A sub-prime loan is offered to people with a low or poor credit history. They may also have a low paying job or do not make enough money, so they are financially more of a liability to lenders and banks than a person with a higher credit score.

However, this does not mean they cannot borrow money. It simply means as they are more likely to struggle to make repayments, they are usually charged a much higher rate of interest than someone who is more financially stable. In some cases, a sub-prime loan can be a good thing, if an individual has previously had poor credit history, this offers them the opportunity to build their credit rating if the loans are repaid on time and to the figures set in the terms of the loan.

What is the problem with sub-prime loans?

The main issue with sub-prime loans is that they charge incredibly high interest rates. On a car loan, for instance that can represent thousands of pounds and on a mortgage, these can run into tens of thousands.

In principle, and if used correctly, a sub-prime loan can benefit a person who is looking to improve their credit score, however, a lot of lenders have been accused of offering unaffordable loans to people who were not assessed for their ability to repay them. This would be based on an assessment of their income and outgoings, something Amigo is accused of doing.

Did you take out an unaffordable sub-prime loan?

If you have already paid off your loan debt in full you can still make a claim – if you struggled to repay the money at the time.

If you are still paying off your loan, you can make a complaint if you are struggling to make repayments, if your claim is successful, it could lower the amount you have to pay back.

You can also still claim if the firm has ceased to operate, you will have to complain through the firm’s administrators. But even if your claim is unsuccessful, it could mean you paying back less money if you owe any.

Consumer champion Martin Lewis says, “Fraudsters are getting off scot-free”

Television personality, money expert and consumer champion Martin Lewis is asking parliament to act now and introduce an online safety bill to protect consumers and stop fraudsters from getting away scot-free.

He told The Observer: “There is an epidemic of scams in the UK. It’s been exploding for the past three or four years, and it’s been exacerbated due to the pandemic.” He is calling for new measures to be introduced in the bill of online safety which is due to be introduced in parliament next week. He is calling ministers to include measures to force big tech companies to vet all the adverts they publish on their platforms to stop people being scammed.

Martin has been campaigning for this for years and to highlight the scale of the problem he launched a lawsuit against Facebook in 2018 after his name was used to promote an advertisement for a fraudulent scheme. Facebook failed to take the advert down. Incredibly Lewis’s face was used in over 1,000 adverts which were paid for by criminals and used to con people into scam investments. Facebook settled the case and agreed to pay £3 million to The Citizens Advice Bureau. However, since then, Lewis says little to nothing has been done by big tech firms to stop this from happening.

So far nothing has been done to force tech companies to vet their advertisements, something which is required from television and radio stations, but Tech companies have been left to their own devices and have failed to act. They are paid to publish articles sometimes hundreds to thousands of pounds, the problem is they do not know or make any attempt to find out who is paying for them. Fraudsters often use Google and social media sites to scam people and UK citizens are losing billions annually because of it.

Lewis told The Observer: “When I was suing Facebook, I met a senior member of the government. I said, ‘can you not regulate?’ And I got this semi-flippant response that, ‘well, it’s really difficult for us to do, which is why we really want you to take the court case’. I think the government and the Westminster classes are absent at the wheel when it comes to scams. And it’s just outrageous that nothing is being done.”

The numbers of people scammed since the pandemic started has skyrocketed as scammers target more and more people. Less than 1 percent of the police budget is spent on investigating online fraud and when an individual is affected, they are encouraged to report it to Action Fraud. Lewis said: “When I do my day job, I of course encourage people to report to Action Fraud too. But I need to be honest – I think that is potentially a futile thing for most people to do. Because Action Fraud is outrageously under-resourced.

“I’m not blaming the individuals at Action Fraud. But very, very few cases of fraud are ever investigated. We have an open charter now for scammers and fraudsters that they can pretty much always get away with this scot free. And that simply isn’t acceptable.”

The impact of fraud on victims is appalling, Lewis said. “As well as potentially being life-destroying financially, it has a huge impact on self-esteem and mental health.”

 

Big tech companies failing to remove scams

Scams are everywhere and if you have been caught out by one already chance is you are a bit more aware of what to look out for. But did you know that as the government and regulators work hard to stop scams and protect us, the same cannot be said for some of the biggest tech companies out there. Unfortunately, there are not the same rules that govern advertising on television and radio on the internet. Because these companies are so large and the internet has been largely ungoverned for so long, it has provided a ripe breeding ground for criminals to target people and often companies are slow to act if at all.

 

An investigation by consumer advocacy group Which? Has revealed that Facebook and Google have failed to remove scam adverts even after victims have reported them. The study by Which? Reported that Google had failed to remove 34% of the scam adverts that were reported to them by members of the public and Facebook failed to remove 26%. Which? Also said that 15% of the people they surveyed had been caught out by scam adverts and reported it. Incredibly 43% of victims said they had not reported being the victim of a scam online and the main reasons where victims did not believe tech companies would act or they would get their money back. Which? Also stated that victims of scams from Google search engines did not report incidents as the reporting process was unclear and too hard to find. Which? Is calling for a better response of big tech companies in acting to remove scam adverts quickly so people are not victimised.

 

Which? Said: “The combination of inaction from online platforms when scam ads are reported, low reporting levels by scam victims and the ease with which advertisers can post new fraudulent adverts even after the original ad has been removed suggests that online platforms need to take a far more proactive approach to prevent fraudulent content from reaching potential victims in the first place.”

 

Which? Wants the government to step in to help protect people. They are asking that online platforms take legal responsibility to identify, remove and fraudulent content on sites. They have launched a free scam-alert service to warn consumers of the latest tactics used by fraudsters. You can check it out here: Scam Alerts | Which?

 

Social media scams are not always easy to spot. They look legitimate and are designed to fool you, they use real brand logos and when you click on them this sends your personal details to the scammer. When you click on them this also triggers the share feature so your social media contacts will also see the fake advert or post and could mean they click on the link too.

 

There are some simple steps you can take to avoid social media scams like inspecting the URL. If you check the URL against the company website URL you may see some slight differences, this means the page has been cloned and is a fake. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. If it offers a great deal or huge discount, check on the company’s website to see if they are actually advertising it. Finally, check the branding. If the logo looks different or is an older version or by clicking on the link it does not take you to their genuine page, then it’s fake and you should avoid it. You can learn more about how to spot a social media scam on Which? Where there is lots of helpful information about what to do if you fall victim to a social media scam: How to spot a social media scam – Which?

What is the problem with Solar Panels?

Well, the quick answer is not a lot, they generate Green Energy and help the environment and for those who have them installed benefit from smaller household energy bills.

 

So why are there so many complaints regarding solar panels? Unfortunately, it is not the solar panels that are at fault here it is the way in which they have been sold and misrepresented to people who purchase them. We often hear from people who complain that they were promised their Feed in Tariff would cover the loan repayments and that the panels would be ‘self-funding’, but people are often left out of pocket.

 

When Green Energy incentives were introduced by the government many companies started selling solar panels as investments. Often people were persuaded to purchase after long sales pitches and promised the panels would lower electricity bills, improve the value of their home, reduce carbon footprint, combat rising electricity bills, and earn money back through the ‘Feed in Tariff’.

 

Solar panel companies sprung up all over the country and started mis-selling the benefits of having them installed. They told consumers that they would save money in the long run by making a small investment but for those who could not afford to purchase them outright, were persuaded into taking out high interest loans with unaffordable monthly repayments.

 

In 2011 a consumer watchdog investigated the mis-selling of solar panels and discovered that 9 out of 12 companies gave consumers inaccurate information regarding their purchases and how much energy they would produce. They also found that many of these panels were not even installed correctly meaning they were not installed in areas that would provide enough light for the panels to work and generate enough electricity. This along with the aggressive nature of the sales process, meant that many people who purchased solar panels were in fact mis-sold them and they could be entitled to make a claim against the company that sold them, even if that company has since ceased trading.

 

If this has happened to you or anyone you know, then get in touch with our expert team to see if we could help you make a claim today. If the person or company who sold you solar panels gave you mis-leading information about them or told you would make a certain amount of money from them by selling energy back to the National Grid or you feel they were not installed correctly then you could make a claim. We may be able to help return the money you have paid to date for the system, recover interest on those sums and write off your future repayments to the finance provider.

Millions could be owed compensation over mis-sold cars!

If purchased a vehicle that ended up causing more pollution than you were told, you could be owed £12,000 in compensation as the deal may have been mis-sold to you. Lawyers are warning that if claims that are being processed now are successful, the scandal could end up costing manufacturers millions and possibly match the PPI scandal which cost banks so far more than £38 billion.

The Times has reported that 9.6 million cars might be affected, meaning the average pay-out would be £12,000. The news has meant claims firms have received an influx of claims from members of the public who believe they may have been mis-sold their vehicles. It all stems from the ‘Diesel Gate Scandal’ in 2015 when car giant Volkswagen was caught out by The Environmental Protection Agency, who discovered the company had installed ‘defeat devices’ in their cars to cheat emissions testing. It was thought that the device was fitted to around 10.5 million diesel cars worldwide.  Since the scandal other car manufacturers were found to be cheating the emissions tests also by installing similar devices and now lawyers have lodged claims against nearly all the big car firms including BMW, Mercedes, Fiat, Ford, and the list goes on. Last year Mercedes agreed to pay £1.2 billion to the United States government over emissions violations.

Legal firms looking into customer claims say these cheat devices are banned in the UK and European Union under law and if customers did not know their vehicles were more polluting than the law allows, they were mis-sold and could make a claim against the manufacturer.

In May 2020, the German Federal Court rules that Volkswagen car owners are entitled to be paid damages and owners should return their cars and be paid the price they paid minus fee for the time they used the car. The ruling is likely to set president and be followed by other cases across the country. In April 2020 Volkswagen settled 200,000 claims in a class action again in Germany which amounted to 620 million euros.

The scandal put made discussions about transport policies, air pollution and diesel driving bans into the spotlight and more cases against manufacturers are being brought in countries all over the world. Incredibly in was discovered that Diesel vehicles being sold across the world were emitting nitrogen oxide pollution, up to 40 times above the legal limit. It is estimated that there are still 9.6 million diesel vehicles in the UK that emit unlawful amounts of pollution and owners are not always aware of this and could be eligible to make a claim if they purchased a diesel vehicle manufactured between 2009 and 2015.

Another successful claim

The team at Mis-sold Claims Assist deal with many types of consumer mis-selling claims. Whether it be a holiday product, a bank dispute or a financial service that was mis-sold, our team are experts in arguing cases to get a successful outcome for our clients. That is exactly what we did for our latest clients who were the victim of a fraudulent lifestyle and concierge scheme that dates back to 2016.

Our clients were invited to attend a presentation selling a lifestyle and concierge package. This package was described to them as being of some value and with it they could book discounted holidays at a substantially reduced price and exclusive deals that were not available to anyone else except members. They were also told they would have access to discounted flights, travel, and many other things. During this meeting, they were subjected to high pressure sales tactics and the presentation went on for nearly an entire day. They were told this package would cost £10,000 and explained how it was worth every penny and over time they would save this on holidays and discounts. Our clients explained they could not afford this huge price tag and the seller agreed to lower it to just under £7,000. After hours and hours of high-pressure presentations our clients agreed to pay the price reluctantly but also felt they had no alternative but to do so simply so they could leave the premises.

It was sometime later that our clients learnt that in fact this company had been placed in liquidation and ceased trading. The company itself did not inform them this had happened. When they tried to gain access to their online membership it became apparent the company had simply shut down and not even attempted to inform their customers of this. Thankfully, they were put in touch with the team at Mis-sold Claims Assist and we have been able to claim their money back for them. If this scenario sounds familiar to you or anyone you know, get in touch with us today for some free expert advice. Our team are experts in dealing with these types of claims and we may be able to help you reclaim all your money plus interest.

The mis-selling of holiday products is, unfortunately, common practice within the holiday industry and these types of crimes often goes unreported by the most vulnerable in our society and criminal convictions are few and far between.

If you have purchased a Lifestyle / Concierge Service, a timeshare or a ‘holiday points’-based product from a resort or company and feel unhappy with the service, or feel you have been mis-sold this product, please get in touch with us to discuss how we may be able to help you with a possible Money Back Claim.

Do not get caught out by Christmas cons!

As coronavirus restrictions are starting to lift in the UK and around the world, most of us will look for an opportunity to get back to enjoying some of the activities we were able to enjoy before the world was plunged into a pandemic. Concerts, and large gatherings were banned last year and as the country reopens officials are warning that ticket scams are on the rise again and scammers are out targeting people desperate to book up their favourite activities again.

According to reports from Action Fraud, 216 people fell victim to ticket fraud in February alone. There has been a sharp increase in people wanting to book up events and concerts and so far over £270,000 has been lost to fraudsters. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau are warning consumers to be extra vigilant when booking online. They say fraudsters create fake ticket sites and sell non-existent seats at real events. Incredibly these fake tickets, on some sites have been advertised at much higher prices than their original prices.

In February, this year 216 reports from consumers were made to Action Fraud, this figure represents an increase of 62% and accounts for over £270,000 with the average victim losing £1,260. Officials are warning that as further lockdowns restrictions ease, these figures are likely to increase substantially if people to not take the correct steps to protect themselves.

What is a ticket scam and how does it work?

Scammers set up fake online sites offering tickets to popular events. These tickets are normally at events that have sold out already and because of these victims are easier to scam as they are easily conned into booking and less likely to check the site for authenticity. The victim eagerly pays for the tickets online, but they never turn up. In some instances, scammers do send tickets and people turn up to events only to find out their tickets are fake.

Protect yourself from ticket fraud by only purchasing tickets from authorised and official venders and well-known reputable sites. Some fraudsters will even go as far to replicate genuine sites, so always check the IP address before handing over any card details.

You can also check with the event organiser for official ticket distribution lists. Avoid paying for tickets via a bank transfer, if it is a fraudster, you will never be able to get this money back so always pay via PayPal or using a credit card, this way you may be able to make a claim to get your money back.

Be extra wary of unsolicited emails, text and social media posts offering too good to be true deals, they often are and will lead to someone trying to steal your money.