COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Consumers' body turns focus to endowments

KIRSTEN DOWNER

Insurance companies and banks could be hit with compensation claims worth a potential £15 billion in the latest campaign by the Consumers' Association.

The charity wants to encourage the five million consumers it estimates could have been mis-sold endowment mortgages to make compensation claims.

The move follows its recent "Switch with Which

campaign, which prompted thousands of people to change utility companies and banks.

"This represents a new way of working for the Consumers' Association and Which? in that it's a direct call to action for consumers,

said a charity spokeswoman. "We're still lobbying, working with the Financial Services Authority and the Government, but we've found that mobilising consumers is very effective."

More than 60 per cent of consumers with an endowment mortgage were told that it "would definitely"or "was guaranteed

to pay off their mortgage, according to research quoted by the association and Which?. This indicates bad advice and possibly mis-selling, yet only 4 per cent of people with endowments have made a formal complaint about being mis-sold, the association claims.

It hopes to increase these numbers significantly through its campaign, which has received coverage in the national and regional press. A web site has been developed, www.endowmentaction. co.uk, to help people determine whether they have been mis-sold, and then guides them through the complaints process.

Actor John Challis, "Boycie

from TV programme Only Fools and Horses, helped launch the campaign late last month and is to be used to symbolise the "dodgy

endowment advisers that mis-sold endowments in the mid-80s and early 90s.

"We chose this image because we realised that a lot of people need prompting to think about the way the sales process was undertaken,

said Marcus Rand, head of media at the charity.

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