But there is no need to go down this route.
A summit held on April 24 by consumer group Which? and financial website MoneySavingExpert.com saw all parts of the financial services industry come together to discuss the process of reclaiming PPI.
The main objective was to put a stop on greedy claims management firms charging fees of up to 30% for following a process people could easily carry out themselves.
A number of benefits came out of the summit, including plans for tighter regulation of the firms, a simpler financial complaints procedure and better communication to consumers about how unnecessary it is to go to claims management firms.
A radio advertising campaign has also been launched to highlight just how easy it is to reclaim your PPI payments for free. And having just recouped £1,300 with very little effort and no third party 'assistance' myself, this was music to my ears...
Why I know you don't need claims management companies
Back in 2005, I was a broke, post-university 20-something who had seriously under-estimated the cost of living in the capital - so I turned to a graduate loan. My bank, Lloyds TSB willingly obliged and I thought little more of it, until seven years later at the start of 2012.
Although I was aware of all the media coverage surrounding PPI, it was only when I had a conversation with a friend, who told me about her Dad's recent £10,000 PPI windfall, that I vaguely recalled a conversation when I had been arranging my own loan.
The bank had mentioned something about insurance, but it certainly had not been presented as optional and I was led to believe it was just a compulsory element of the loan.
Spurred on by my friends experience I decided to investigate, and as a starting point, went online. My screen was immediately flooded with claims management firms all promising to re-coup my losses, and professing that if I didn't use them, the process would be lengthy, complicated and likely to result in a rejected claim.
Motivated by the prospect of getting my money back, I contacted one of the many claims management firms that I was presented with.
However, my motivation was soon quashed when it asked me question after question, told me I would have to fill out a number of forms and that I would have to contact my bank to get all the details about my loan. It led me to question - what exactly was it doing?
So I decided to look into reclaiming the money myself. I simply went to the Lloyds website, and found a page dedicated to customers wanting to reclaim PPI.
I can honestly say it couldn't have been easier. There was a dedicated phone number to call, and all I needed was the loan reference number (which I managed to easily obtain by speaking to someone on the loans team at Lloyds) and a couple of other details such as when I took the loan out.
The phone call to Lloyds can't have lasted more than about three minutes, after which the matter was taken out of my hands. I received a letter saying the case was being looked into, and six weeks after this, £1,300 landed in my account.
This was the full amount of course - not with a big chunk bitten off by a greedy claims management firm that would have just done exactly what I did myself.
Of course, all providers will be different and it may be that you need to send a letter with all the details in writing. But, nevertheless, it will be just as easy, if not easier (as I found) then going through a claims management company.
Don't be sucked in
In these cash-strapped times, none of us can afford to throw money away - so don't be tempted to give claims management companies your business.
These firms are notorious for endlessly harassing people with countless phone calls and texts - often hounding people who have never even taken PPI.
My own Dad is one example of this and despite him politely telling these firms numerous times that he has never had PPI, it is clearly falling on deaf ears.
So how can you protect ourselves from these nuisance calls?
Firstly, check you are ex-directory by calling your mobile and landline provider. This will deter companies who find your number by going through the phone book.
Sign up for the free
Telephone Preference Service (TPS). The process will normally take 28 days before taking effect but will allow you to bar unwanted calls. Any firm that persists to bother you could face a fine of up to £5,000 per call. If you are still being harassed, sign up for a VOIP (internet telephone) number. This is a good option if you have had to enter your number on an internet site, or been asked for your number by a potential sales person. With this service, you don't answer calls, the caller just leaves a voicemail which you listen to, and can then choose to respond if you wish.
Unfortunately, you can do all this and still find that you are being contacted by claims management companies. The likely reason for this is they have a marketing list containing your number. And in this case, the chances are if one has your number, others probably do too.
The best thing you can do is tell them you are not interested, ask to be taken off their marketing list and not contacted again. Make them aware that you are signed up to the TPS and say you'll report them to the Information Commissioner's Office if they call again.
Claims management firms have realised just how easy it is to make a quick buck by appearing to offer a service that is going to help you. In fact the only ones they are helping are themselves, and are laughing all the way to the bank at our expense. here is still £5billion of mis-sold PPI out there waiting to be reclaimed.
This means that, unless people take action, up to £1.5billion of YOUR money could go into the pocket of claims companies. Don't be duped a second time - get back the cash you deserve.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.
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