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Sentinel (AI) mis-selling – are you due £100s

Sentinel (AI) mis-selling – are you due £100s

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Amy and Helen | Edited by Johanna

Updated 16 Sep 2016

The redress scheme for the two million flogged worthless card security insurance from Affinion (often branded Sentinel) has now closed, but you might be able to claim for old policies. Or you've got until 16 September for "exceptional cases" to be considered.

If you think you were mis-sold the insurance before 2005, this guide will also show how to complain to your bank and then escalate to the free Financial Ombudsman if you don't have any success.

What is AI?

Affinion International (AI) sells card protection policies, which cover a number of things and used to include fraudulent use of lost or stolen cards. This element, which it called 'card security', is normally useless as card issuers are typically responsible for fraudulent transactions anyway.

While it was this one element of a larger policy that was mis-sold, you could nevertheless claim for the whole cost of card protection under the scheme for products sold between 14 January 2005 and August 2013 – when the worthless element of the product was removed.

How did Affinion mis-sell?

Only some customers actually purchased the card protection from Affinion. It was mostly sold by banks when people applied for credit cards. We've heard many tales of bank staff persuading people to take out these policies and not explaining they'd probably be covered anyway.

Why do people fall for these products?

Imagine before you started reading this guide, someone offered to sell you "Martin Lewis punches you in the face insurance" against the event he'd find you and smack you.

Of course it's ludicrous. But, wouldn't you think: "There must be a reason they're selling this insurance? He must've done it before. They wouldn't be selling it unless there was a tangible, manifest risk."

Now you've thought that, it starts to create a doubt. "Maybe you should get it, after all it's not that expensive, and peace of mind against being lamped on the nose is important."

Sound ludicrous? Well now turn it to a financial example, where people know less about the facts. Building fear, employing PR people to pump up ID fraud worries, helps sell policies. Millions signed up to CPP to protect against a conjured risk that sounded believable. In the end it emerged that the same thing happened here.

Quick questions

Did I get this product with my debit or credit card?

What did card protection cover me for?

Does this have anything to do with PPI or CPP?

What happened to the AI scheme?

The AI scheme was set up in August 2015 to refund people who were mis-sold card protection from January 2005 onwards. If you think you should have been eligible for the scheme but didn't recieve a letter then you still might have a chance to claim by getting in touch with the Financial Ombudsman Service. If you think this applies to you then follow the steps below to complain to the ombudsman.

Or if due to exceptional circumstances you weren't able to meet the deadline, there's also a deadline of 19 September 2016 to let Affinion know why you weren't able to meet the deadline and get your claim considered. As an example, if you've been out of the country for a long period of time, the deadline could be extended for you.

Report your own successes and failures in the forum.

Claiming pre-2005?

If you think you were mis-sold a card protection product from your bank/card provider before 2005, then you have a right to reclaim your money back.

You can complain to your bank/provider, but if you've switched card provider since you were mis-sold, you will need to complain to the provider that originally mis-sold you the products and have the paperwork to hand from that provider.

These things are best done in writing, but if that's too difficult, don't worry about calling. Just ask the provider to note it down as a formal complaint, and also ask for written confirmation.

To help, we've put together a template letter to start you off – download it and fill in the blanks (use it to help start you off, but the more you write in your own words, the better):

FREE template letter! Download our card protection reclaim letter. Make sure you keep a copy. It'll be helpful if you go to the Ombudsman.

We don't yet know banks' attitude to these complaints. But at the start of similar past reclaiming campaigns, such as PPI and CPP, banks rejected many cases the Ombudsman later upheld.

They do this deliberately, as they know most people won't take it further. Often, the rejection sounds legally definite. Yet don't let that put you off. If you feel you were treated unfairly, if they reject you then it just enables you to contact the independent Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Banks have eight weeks to respond. If you don't hear anything, or you're not happy with how it's dealt with your complaint, don't give up – go to the next step.

Quick question

What if I have a card protection product from before 2005 that I renewed and kept on after that?

Escalate to the free Financial Ombudsman

If you tried the option above and didn't have any success, don't assume that's the end of the matter. You have a right to take ANY complaint that's turned down to the independent FOS.

This is the official body for settling disputes between individuals and financial companies. It's a free service that acts as an impartial adjudicator. Present it with the facts, and it'll decide whether the circumstances your protection plan was sold under were unfair. Read more on the Ombudsman

Get a complaint form. You can download an Ombudsman complaint form plus read a guide to help fill the form out.

Quick questions

How far back can I claim?

I asked to take out the policy, but didn't use it. Was I mis-sold?

The account holder's deceased or needs help, can I do this?

Can my bank punish me for complaining?

What are my chances of success?

Please tell us your experiences!

Whether you've had success or not making a claim, let us know how you got on. That way we can keep our guide up-to-date and help as many people as possible.

Ask us questions and give your feedback
Report your card protection plan reclaiming successes and failures in our forum. Also let us know any extra questions you'd like us to answer.