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Third-party fears as policy complaints flood in

The Financial Ombudsman Service is concerned about third-party firms offering no-win, no-fee services on mortgage endowment complaints.

The FOS is getting endowment complaints at a much faster rate than it had budgeted for, with 10,000 complaints so far this year.

It says there is no need for consumers to seek out third-party services. Spokeswoman Iris Baker says: “We are looking at a lot of cases – much more than we expected. We budgeted for 16,000 cases for 2003/04 and we have already seen 10,000.

“The ombudsman was set up to provide free access to complainants so there is no need for consumers to use a third party. Complainants are at no disadvantage coming to the ombudsman themselves and are not charged for the service.”

FOS figures show that it processed 13,570 mortgage endowment complaints in the year ending April 2003, which accounts for 35 per cent of its entire workload of 38,771 cases.

The FSA says compensation for mortgage endowment misselling has hit the £1bn mark and is showing no signs of slowing.

The regulator says that since 2000, it has ordered payouts to more than 500,000 people who it believes were missold endowment policies.

Since the start of the endowment review, 23 companies have been ordered by the FSA to reserve around £700m for compensation in anticipation of widespread claims from customers.

FSA spokeswoman Jackie Blyth says: “Regulation already provides for individuals to complain to companies free of charge. If they are not satisfied with this, they can be referred to the ombudsman, which is also free of charge.”


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