YOU could be forgiven for throwing something at your TV the second the Financial Conduct Authority’s new payment protection insurance (PPI) advert comes on, but stick with it - you could stand to benefit.

True, an animatronic Arnold Schwarzenegger head that terrorises indecisive shoppers by bellowing “Make a decision! Do it now!” at them has just about next to nothing to do with arguably the biggest consumer scandal ever to hit the UK.

But if, as it seems the FCA is hoping, it annoys viewers enough to catch their eye then maybe it will prompt them to find out whether they were mis-sold PPI and, more importantly, to take action before the final claims cut-off date of August 29, 2019.

Loading article content

The point, according to FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey, is for the £42 million advertising campaign, which is being paid for by the 18 largest players in the industry, “to cut through the noise on PPI”.

“We want to encourage people to decide whether to find out if they had PPI and whether to complain or not,” he says.

“Our message, and Arnie's, is ‘do it now’ and I urge people to make a decision before the deadline.”

When you consider the sums that have already been paid out to compensate people who were wrongly sold PPI - an insurance product that links to loans such as mortgages and credit cards to ensure repayments continue even if illness means incomes are curtailed - it is obvious why the regulator is taking such a proactive stance.

Indeed, since the FCA introduced rules for complaining about PPI in 2011 over £27.4 billion has already been paid out to consumers.

With Lloyds sitting on an additional £2.6bn fund for compensating customers, while Barclays, RBS and HSBC have set aside £2.1bn, £1.1bn and £860m respectively, the potential for further claims is clearly huge.

As Gareth Shaw, a money expert at consumer organisation Which?, says: “With hundreds of millions of pounds being put aside by banks each month, it’s clear that there are still a large number of people that have not claimed.”

While for most people the payouts are likely to be small on an individual basis, reports of some huge payments - such as a Hertfordshire woman who received £65,000 from her credit card company - highlight why it is worth everybody at least checking whether they should make a claim.

Even those who have had claims rejected in the past should consider reapplying, says Which? managing director Alex Neill, since a Supreme Court judgment handed down earlier this year - the Plevin ruling - means consumers may have new grounds for making a claim.

Anyone whose provider failed to disclose the amount of commission they charged from selling the PPI could be eligible for a claim under the Plevin rules.

“With just two years left for consumers to claim compensation for mis-sold PPI it is worrying that so many are unaware of this deadline, while others have been put off from claiming because they think it’s too much hassle or they don’t want to pay a fee,” Neill says.

“The FCA campaign must encourage more people to claim, including previously unsuccessful claimants to re-submit their complaint due to the new Plevin ruling, which has made thousands more consumers eligible for compensation.”

Not wanting to pay a fee may be a key consideration for consumers, many of whom will have been plagued by calls from claims management firms since the PPI rules were first introduced.

With Shaw noting that claims management firms can take up to a third of any compensation offered it is easy to say why, although he stresses that Which? is one of several organisations that offer free PPI claim tools.

The Financial Ombudsman Service is another, which is no surprise given that a spokesman for the organisation says it has received over 1.7 million PPI-related complaints to date, making it the most complained-about product it has dealt with since being set up in 2000.

“We’re continuing to receive thousands of PPI complaints a week,” the spokesman says adding that any consumer who is unsure about how to make a claim “should get in touch and we’ll see if we can help”.

Given that the service is free, what have you got to lose?

If you are going to do it, take Arnie’s advice and do it now, though, because, unlike Schwarzenegger, once the FCA’s deadline has passed there will be no going back.