If you think you may have been mis-sold PPI, don't assume you've got until the advertised 2019 deadline to reclaim millions who may be owed could face a much earlier cut-off.
The financial regulator last month launched a high-profile advertising campaign featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, warning consumers that "PPI complaints end 29 August 2019".
But it's now emerged that millions of those most likely to have been mis-sold PPI may actually have much less time to get their claims in. This is because an earlier effort by banks to alert customers to a likely mis-sale automatically triggered an earlier deadline.
PPI stands for Payment Protection Insurance an insurance policy sold alongside loans, cards, overdrafts, mortgages and catalogue accounts. It's designed to cover repayments in the event of an accident, sickness or unemployment and in itself there's nothing wrong with it but it was frequently mis-sold, and many are owed as a result.
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Why many face an earlier reclaim deadline
While the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has heavily promoted its August 2019 deadline, many who could be owed face having to complete their claim long before then.
That's because between 2013 and 2015, firms proactively wrote to 5.5 million people who were at high risk of being mis-sold PPI but had not yet claimed.
Some of these letters, known as redress letters, offered money upfront. Though many of them, known as contact letters, warned customers that they had three years from the date they received the letter to make their claim and the FCA has now confirmed that this deadline does still apply.
There are no precise figures for how many people face an earlier deadline. The FCA doesn't have a breakdown of how many of the 5.5 million letters were contact letters in which case an earlier reclaim deadline applies and how many were redress letters, in which case, if you still haven't taken up the money you were offered, the 2019 deadline still stands.
There are also no official figures for how many people responded to the redress and contact letters at the time, though the FCA estimates it was about 30%.
But even though the exact figure isn't known, it's possible millions of potential claimants face a much earlier deadline and the FCA's advertising campaign makes no mention of this.
This earlier deadline is likely to be eight months before the official August 2019 cut-off at the very latest but in some cases could have already passed, depending on when you were sent the letter.
How do I know if my deadline is earlier?
You'll face an earlier deadline if you were sent a contact letter by your bank or credit card provider between 2013 and 2015. This is a letter which would have explained you may have been mis-sold and which would have told you you had three years to respond so your deadline will be three years from when you received it, rather than August 2019.
If you don't remember whether you were sent such a letter, you need to get in contact with the firms that may have mis-sold you PPI, and ask if you were sent one.
Whatever your circumstances, start your reclaim as early as possible, as the system is likely to get jammed up as the FCA's official deadline approaches.
Deadline passed or claim rejected? You may still be able to reclaim if you were 'Plevined'
If your deadline has passed or you submitted a claim but it was rejected, don't despair your chances aren't gone altogether.
There's now a new way to claim simply for having had a PPI policy. In 2014 the Supreme Court ruled Susan Plevin had been treated unfairly because she hadn't been told about the large amount of commission (71.8%) taken from her PPI payment.
Since August, banks have had to consider the Plevin ruling in all mis-selling cases and the FCA has confirmed you can submit a claim on these grounds even if you've already had a claim rejected or you had an earlier deadline which has now passed.
There are a number of things to watch out for though for instance, your PPI and any connected loan or credit must have been taken out after 6 April 2007 or before this date but still been active after 6 April 2008. For full help see Have you been 'Plevined'?