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Claims management firm fined after misleading consumers over PPI claims

By Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent

A claims management company has been fined £70,000 after misleading consumers by giving the impression that it was making PPI claims directly to banks.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which imposed the fine, said Professional Personal Claims Limited (PPC) had misled consumers through its websites and printed materials.

The decision follows the transfer of regulatory responsibility for claims management companies (CMCs) to the FCA on April 1 2019.

The regulator said PPC had prominently used the logos of major banks – which was liable to mislead consumers into believing they were submitting redress claims for mis-sold PPI directly to their banks – rather than engaging PPC as a claims management company to pursue claims on their behalf in return for payment of a success fee.

The deadline for making a PPI, or payment protection insurance, mis-selling claim was in August.

The regulator said PPC also failed to present accurate, fully formed, detailed and specific complaints to banks.

It had submitted Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) questionnaires to banks on behalf of different consumers.

The questionnaires in part contained identical factual allegations, the FCA said, where evidence specific to each client should have been presented.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: “CMCs have an important role to play in helping to secure compensation for their customers. This is especially true in the case of those consumers who might not otherwise make a claim.

“PPC’s misleading website and marketing material suggested PPC was associated with the five banks when this was not the case.

“Claims management firms must ensure their advertising is accurate, not only in terms of what they say about themselves and their services, but also in terms of what is represented.”

PPC had originally been investigated by the previous regulator for CMCs, the Claims Management Regulator (CMR).

It followed complaints between October 2015 and March 2017 from clients of PPC and financial firms.

In December 2018, the CMR determined that PPC had breached conduct rules by using websites and marketing materials which were misleading and by submitting misleading material to financial firms in support of its clients’ PPI redress claims. The CMR imposed a £70,000 fine for these failings.

PPC appealed against the CMR’s penalty notice – but while the appeal was pending, the FCA took over regulation of claims management firms – and it replaced the CMR as the respondent to PPC’s pending appeal.

In September 2019, after reviewing the evidence put forward by the FCA, PPC withdrew its appeal, and the FCA therefore imposed the £70,000 fine on PPC for the failings identified in the CMR’s penalty notice.