Have you been mis-sold ID theft insurance?
There has been a huge increase in the number of credit card customers complaining about being mis-sold identity theft insurance.
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) - which investigates disputes between consumers and financial services companies - has seen a 59% rise in complaints about specialist insurance in the last two years from people who believe they were pressurised to buy policies.
Many of these complaints concern ID theft insurance.
When someone receives a new, or replacement, credit card they usually have to call a dedicated phone line to activate the card and they are frequently put through to third-party salespeople to push identity theft insurance.
Emma Parker, from the FOS, says: "The majority of customers are saying they feel they have been misled and pressurised when buying identity theft insurance or they have bought it without knowing exactly what it is."
Costly and pointless
This type of insurance, costing between £5 and £7 a month, promises to help you if your identity is stolen but it can be costly and pointless.
In fact, many ID theft insurance policies are not worth taking out as they give you the same amount of cover you would already have under the Banking Code. This stipulates that if the identity theft is not your fault, you'll get the money back by your provider.
Mike Powell, spokesperson at Defaqto, says if you want to take out this sort of cover, check the policy first. Some policies will help you reinstate your credit record or provide you with access to your own personal credit file, while others just give out sample letters to send to the companies involved.
The Ombudsman has also seen an increase in complaints about mis-selling of other specialist insurance including mobile phone insurance.
How to protect yourself from ID fraud
There are many things you can do to protect yourself from ID fraud and our guide, Fraud: how to get your money back, has more information on this.
You can also check your credit card history through a credit reference agency like Callcredit, Equifax or Experian for £2 to make sure there has been no suspicious activity.
If you think you've been mis-sold ID theft insurance the first thing to do is contact the company directly. It then has eight weeks to respond to your complaint.
After that, if you are still not happy, you can then contact the FOS (financial-ombudsman.org.uk). It will then take up the investigation on your behalf it if deems you've been mis-sold insurance and can order the company to put things right.
The practice of a dishonest salesperson misrepresenting or misleading an investor about the characteristics of a product or service. For example, selling a person with no dependants a whole-of-life policy. There have been notable mis-selling scandals in the past, including endowment policies tied to mortgages, employees persuaded to leave final salary pensions in favour of money purchase pensions (which paid large commissions to salespeople) and payment protection insurance. There is no legal definition of mis-selling; rather the Financial Services Authority (FSA) issues clarifying guidelines and hopes companies comply with them.
If you’ve have a complaint about a financial service product you have bought but the company you bought it from refuses to resolve your problem after eight weeks, the Ombudsman can help. The Ombudsman will investigate and resolve the matter. The Ombudsman is independent and its service is free to consumers. The Ombudsman may find in the company’s favour but consumers don’t have accept its decision and are always free to go to court instead. But if they do accept an Ombudsman’s decision, it is binding both on them and on the business.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.