PPI Warning Issued Over Adverts

PPI Warning Issued Over Adverts

According to MoneySavingExpert.com founder, Martin Lewis, payment protection insurance (PPI) claimants shouldn’t follow advice on the FCA’s new PPI adverts or risk losing up to 33% of their payout.

The regulator is telling people to search for “FCA PPI” via its new ads encouraging people to check if they have been mis-sold PPI before. However, MoneySavingExpert.com has discovered instances where other firms have charged claimants up to 36% for claiming PPI simply because those firms appear as top results for this search term instead of the official FCA website.

Advising claimants to use a search term (FCA PPI) instead of giving the official FCA website is risky since the regulator isn’t guaranteed a top result

for every search that happens using the “FCA PPI” search term. Although the FCA comes top for organic search results relevant to search terms related to it, paid ads “sit” above the search terms and these ads are what people see first.

The problem

The FCA launched a series of Arnold Schwarzenegger adverts urging people to check if they have been mis-sold PPI before. Those who suspect they have been mis-sold PPI covers in the past must claim before 29th August 2019. The ad campaign includes two different radio adverts, a TV advert, and two different poster adverts. The TV ad happens to be the only ad that features the full FCA site address. The poster and radio ads urge people to search for the term “FCA PPI” and don’t offer the official FCA website.

When the “FCA PPI” search term is tested on Google among other search engines, MoneySavingExpert.com discovered that there are multiple instances where paid-for companies rank higher than the official FCA site in search engine results. In some instances, the regulator appears 4th in a list of ads and firms ranking

above are entitled to a cut (up to 36%) on every successful claim.

According to Martin Lewis, the FCA must change the call-to-action for these ads because they are misleading. Lewis acknowledges the FCA’s efforts to try and educate the public but goes further to state that the regulator will not reach the intended people with the ads in their current state. According to Lewis, the regulator is targeting individuals who haven’t reclaimed PPI in the past ten years. A majority of such people are not web savvy. They are also vulnerable. Lewis argues that most people won’t be able to differentiate the ad with the official FCA website from those from claim companies which are entitled to take huge “cuts” from every successful claim they process.

In the recent past, Google has made it harder to differentiate between search results and ads on search engine pages. For those who aren’t web savvy, spotting the difference is hard which could lead to mistakes. In his humble opinion, Lewis cautions that the regulator is using public funds to pay search engine giant, Google, to rank higher yet most claim firms have bigger ad budgets having made a lot of money taking a third of people’s payment protection insurance payouts. In simple terms, these firms have the incentives to use a lot of money to dominate Google’s ad ranking for PPI and related terms. This, in turn, makes it easy for the FCA’s ad campaign to be “hijacked.” Clicks meant for the FCA are likely to go to claims management sites. What’s more; people may find themselves paying over 30% to reclaim what could have been reclaimed for free. Furthermore, the chances of a claimant taking action after seeing the cost are very slim.

Why it’s happening

The problem is simple. The regulator chose a search term over the official FCA website to control what a person sees when they search the term “FCA PPI”. This is despite the fact that search engines display paid-for ads as the highest ranking results today. Companies can bid on terms used by people to try and secure top search engine result spots for those terms.

Reclaiming PPI insurance

PPI is a special type of insurance policy sold to individuals who get loans. As the name suggests, payment protection insurance is meant to cover a borrower’s

loan repayments in case of eventualities like sickness, accidents, unemployment, etc. that may hinder their ability to make repayments. PPI is a good insurance cove; however, it has been mis-sold widely. Just recently, a ruling (known as Plevin) has made it possible for people to claim some money back on mis-sold PPI covers in the past. The landmark ruling was inspired by the fact that many people have been paying for potentially worthless PPI cover for years. MoneySavingExpert.com has a mis-selling checklist[1]. You don’t need to pay anyone/any company to reclaim mis-sold PPI.

Act NOW!

You must check and launch your claim before 29th August 2019 if you meet the mis-sold PPI guidelines. Complaints received before the deadline will be processed accordingly. However, some people may be able to claim after the deadline i.e., those who bought PPI policies after 29th August 2017. The deadline may also not be applicable for individuals disputing rejected PPI policy claims.

It is estimated that approximately 5.5 million people were victims of mis-sold PPI between years 2013 and 2015. Majority of these people haven’t launched claims.

The FCA’s take

According to an FCA spokesperson, auctions for PPI related keywords are extremely competitive, and the regulator can’t guarantee its ads will enjoy a 1st place position every time. The regulator is, however, monitoring this development carefully and working on an approach focused on increasing the value of its ads. Nevertheless, the regulator is confident about the campaign’s call-to-action given website traffic has increased significantly since the campaign launched.