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Aviva ignored signs of financial abuse by sibling and supported by FOS


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Looking at all of this, it seems to me that the FOS decision is based on the fact:

  1. that Aviva followed their procedures – and apparently in so doing they acted fairly (extraordinary and very good evidence of how the FOS cosies up to industry).
  2. That several letters were sent to your address and the FOS car understand that you would have received them
  3. and that apparently in response to a letter sent to your address, the DVLA were provided with various documents which by their nature would have been in your possession.


Were absolutely not interested in point number one, but could you explain very briefly points number two and number three.

We take it there is no love lost between you and your brother.

If the story is to be taken at face value, then we seem to be talking here about domestic abuse. Domestic abuse doesn't necessarily need to be one person knocking knocking around another person in a domestic environment. It could be economic abuse – and it doesn't need to happen simply between cohabiting partners.

Maybe you can tell us a bit more

 

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Please will you monitor this thread – probably tomorrow for a fuller reply – but for the moment, I think it would be useful to understand a little bit more about the relationship between you and your brother.

Forgive me for asking personal details – but what are your ages – who is older.

I'd like to know if you get on well, how long you have lived at separate addresses – and if push came to shove, would it cause you any difficulty to take a legal action against him or even to inform the police about his activities?
I'm not suggesting that you would do this at the moment but I suppose it could be a possibility but right now I'd like to know whether the idea of it stresses you or causes you any difficulties.
Would you describe your brother as a dominant figure in your life?

 

Also, I see that in the FOS report, you are described as "Mrs B". Does this mean that you are in a partnership. Are you part of a family anyway?

I understand that these questions are very personal and you may not want to disclose the answers on the open forum or at all.

However I think they might be relevant and if you are happy about disclosing them on the open forum then if you feel comfortable about disclosing them to me in confidence, you could email me on our admin email address with your responses.

I'm not trying to take this discussion of the forum. It's important that it is discuss it openly but there are confidential details which wouldn't be particularly relevant which might be very helpful to you if you disclose them to me.

I'm afraid to say that by large I think that a different approach needs to be used with this problem – but some answers to the questions I have asked above would clarify a few things before I come back and make some suggestions

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I see that in the FOS decision, they have given you until a day in May to accept their decision or to decline it.

What happens if you decline the decision? Who has the FOS decision come from? Is it an adjudicator?

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I think you also said that your brother's name was on an insurance fraud database. What details about that please? Have you any idea what date his name was entered on that register?

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Sorry I don't understand. Where did you get the information that your brother was on the fraud database? When did you get this information?

 

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Also, please can you telephone the FOS today and asked them about the status of this decision/letter which you have received. Are there any opportunities for further representations? What happens if you decline? What happens if you accept?

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Thank you.

As you know, I've started getting involved in this thread partway through – so I'm trying to understand it all – and it's pretty complicated.

I had understood that your brother's name was on an insurance fraud database – but that doesn't seem to be the case now. Please can you clarify.

If it is on insurance for database then was this before or after he purchased this Aviva insurance?

I have to say that overall it's a shame that you didn't refer to this as a domestic/financial abuse problem at the outset because this might have changed people's way of looking at it. Of course you weren't to know.
However, companies nowadays are so worried about not adopting/complying with the current move in safeguarding culture, that if this had been identified as a domestic abuse issue, I think they would have handled it differently. Not because they are particularly interested and concerned about domestic abuse. Frankly I don't think they care – but they are worried about their own risk reputationally.

The Aviva website makes a big thing about safeguarding and financial abuse – and they even say that they have communications with SEA – Surviving Economic Abuse - - https://survivingeconomicabuse.org/ which is a relatively recent organisation which tries to get business organisations to adopt safeguarding policies and to implement safeguarding training so that they can recognise and protect the victims of domestic abuse – particularly financial/economic abuse.

Aviva make a thing about their role in protecting people from financial abuse and they even dedicate a webpage to it https://www.aviva.co.uk/aviva-edit/your-life-articles/financial-abuse/ although of course, webpages come very cheap.

Interestingly, Aviva say that they are:

 

Quote

We’re trained to spot the signs 

Aviva and the Aviva Foundation have been working closely with SEA and SafeLives to train staff on recognising the warning signs that anyone — customers or not — might display. 

Group Corporate Responsibility Manager Simone Wyatt says: “We’ve made training available to our front line staff, as well as to our wider colleagues, so that they’re equipped to recognise the common signs of financial abuse, such as people calling in to cash in pensions earlier than they should. These have intensified with the stresses and pressures of Covid, and that’s why we’re partnering with SEA.

“By recognising the impact of financial abuse, we can help to look after people and signpost them to expert help. At Aviva, our customers are more than just policyholders — we’re here to help.”

 

Of course it's a load of nonsense and not only that, if you asked Aviva to disclose their safeguarding/financial abuse policy and also to give you access to their training materials, they would decline on spurious grounds.

Similarly, the Financial Ombudsman Service has had discussions over the past three or four years with SEA although I'm not sure if they have adopted any policies in terms of trying to spot signs of domestic abuse in the complaints that people bring to them. I suspect that they would rather not get involved and anyway, if you go to the FOS website, and if you search for financial abuse or economic abuse – or even abuse – there is nothing.
From the look of the ombudsman's decision, they basically seem to say that as long as Aviva has a "process" – any old "process" then that is fine with the FOS as long as Aviva then sticks to that "process".  The FOS makes it pretty clear that as long as Aviva have stuck to their "process" then their customers been treated fairly – regardless of the fairness or otherwise of the "process".


The ombudsman then goes on to make a little gesture of having exercised its own independent judgement by pointing out that the policy has been in force for some time and that there has even been a payment against it.
Apparently this makes everything fair and above board – bless!.

This is all despite the fact that Aviva – and the ombudsman recognise that the circumstances which led to the taking out of the policy were that Aviva were telephoned by a strange man who said that he wanted to take out an insurance policy in the name of a woman with a different name who lived at a different address to him – even though they were apparently married couple – and that the woman in whose name he was taking out the policy would be the policyholder (the contracting partner) and he would simply be a named driver but that the money will be coming out of his own bank account.

Clearly the contract was intended to be made with the policyholder – the woman who was the main driver – and clearly what was happening here was that the brother was taking out an insurance policy in which secretly he would be the main driver – and which is otherwise known as "fronting" and which is forbidden by the insurance industry and forms very reasonable grounds for terminating the policy.

The Aviva "trained" employee who took the call and organised the contract, heard all of this – and apparently even tried to get to speak to the woman – the policyholder – and was rebuffed so much so that it was even remarked by the ombudsman that it was clear that the brother was "reluctant" to allow the woman – who he claimed was his wife – to talk to the call handler. The ombudsman even comments that it was clear that the man, who was presenting himself as the husband of the woman – was "controlling" the policy (do we see controlling behaviour here?) – And yet the call handler went ahead and allowed the insurance contract to be formed and the policy to be issued in the name of the unknown, unseen, wife that no one was allowed to speak to.

I don't know what it takes to make it dawn on a trained call handler that they are dealing with the situation where there are all the hallmarks of domestic abuse. I don't know what it takes to make it dawn on an FOS investigator – and also the ombudsman themselves that they are dealing with the situation which has all the hallmarks of domestic abuse……!

I feel pieces of sick rising in the back of my throat.

 

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  • BankFodder changed the title to Aviva ignored signs of financial abuse by sibling and supported by FOS

I agree with my site team colleague that you should reject the ombudsman's decision. You have nothing to lose.

I'm not sure what an SRA is in this context.

Also, I'm afraid that generally speaking the way that this story has been told on this thread is very patchy and also I have a sense that it's not complete.

I think it would be very useful almost to start from zero and to lay out everything which happened in a careful bullet pointed chronology.

Maybe would be better for you to prepare this account off-line and when you think that it's all complete and logical and understandable, you could then copy into a post.

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Okay. You meant SAR – not SRA.

I think that when you decline the ombudsman's decision, that you should send a letter which at least they will have on file which will object to the decision and at least your objections will go into their file.

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Also, I think you should certainly start sending SARs out to a number of people.

Send one to Aviva
send one to the FOS

also are we able to identify anybody else's got any records of attempts apparently by you to ask for credit or asked for insurance et cetera?
In addition to identifying those in your chronology, maybe you could list out any of them that you are aware of now – and sent them SARs.

Of course what would be very funny would be if you sent an SAR to Aviva and they declined to provide you with the data on the basis that you are not the data subject.

I think we need to do a lot of information gathering – and incidentally, if you want to challenge this then I think you are going to have to end up going to court.

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The SARs will take 30 days so you won't have the disclosures in time for your rejection of the ombudsman's decision.
Send the SARs as soon as possible.

Of course, the data protection legislation provides that 30 days is the maximum time limit – but in practice this is abused and organisations wait until the 30 days are pretty well up and then they provide the data.

 

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I know it's a nuisance – but send an SAR to each one of them.

We have our SAR template – use that.

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Please could you post up here a copy of the complaint that you made to the financial ombudsman.
Also, the financial ombudsman's decision goes into some detail as to the conduct of the insurance contract after its inception.
In other words, there are lots of references to correspondence which was apparently sent to you and which they say you must have received and you must have been aware of et cetera.

I don't want to ask you specifics about that at the moment – but what I would like to know is – were you ever asked about this and did you ever make any written statements about this correspondence or is the ombudsman's decision based entirely on evidence received from Aviva?

In other words have you been given an opportunity to tell your side of the story relating to the correspondence – and has the ombudsman arrived at their decision based on the versions from both sides

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How many phone calls were there?

I need you specifically to tell me whether they receive the information about all the correspondence relating to defaults et cetera from you or whether this came simply from Aviva – and if it came simply from Aviva, do they ever come back to you then and put these matters to you.

Hopefully when you supply the SAR to the ombudsman, you will get hold of copies of telephone recordings.

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Okay well make sure that you send the SAR to the FOS – and also to Aviva – today.

Get the rest going over the next few days

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Tell you now where I think this is going.

You are going to decline the ombudsman decision. We will send them a letter outlining your objections – although all they will do would be to put it on file.

We would then investigate the possibility of suing Aviva under ICOBS and you will need to start reading that an understanding it if we are going to go ahead. Basically the idea is that as an insurance company they have a statutory duty to treat you fairly and I think we have a very reasonable case to suggest that they are not treating you fairly.

I would propose suing them for a modest amount – simply to get into court and to force them to disclose any documents which they haven't disclosed under an SAR but also to start deciding whether they are going to accept that yes maybe they got it wrong, or whether they think they are going to defend it.
You will have to decide whether you are prepared to take a small claim on this basis and I can assure you that if they decide to defend it, it will get quite exciting because they will fight tooth and nail because a judgement for this kind of statutory breach of duty is a serious matter for them.

I think before we launched into litigation, we would try to open up the issue with them again but this time on the issue of domestic abuse – which is what I think should have happened first of all. They might say that it's already done and dusted. We might then try to move it up to the ombudsman – but the ombudsman might also say that this is an issue which has been done and dusted and cannot be revisited.
In that case, we would have to decide whether or not to litigate.

If you did litigate and they put their hands up, then as a condition of withdrawing the action we would require them to undo all this damage that they've done to your credit files et cetera. If they decided to defend then you would have to decide whether or not to go to a hearing and to try to get a judge to award you judgement and a modest compensation on the basis that the insurer had treated you unfairly.

That's the general idea. Of course things can change very quickly – but that's the theory, anyway.

 

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You mean the FOS – and yes, send it to their main offices

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I think you could also usefully sent the following letter to Aviva. They will refuse to give you the information you are seeking – but it would be helpful to get even that refusal on record.

 

Quote

Group Corporate Responsibility Manager Simone Wyatt 

 

Dear Ms Wyatt



Financial abuse policies and training.

 

I have seen on your website that you have recently published information about Aviva's attitude to financial advice, information relating to indicators of financial advice and also referring to your close association with the Surviving Economic Abuse organisation (SAE) and to the training that you provide to your staff on recognising the warning signs of financial abuse.

I'm extremely encouraged to see this so prominently displayed on your website and also I'm very pleased to see that you are working closely with SAE which is an organisation which I am familiar with.

I'd be very grateful if you could provide me with a copy of your financial abuse policy – and also details of the training that you are providing your staff. If you would be prepared to let me have sight of the training materials then I would be very grateful indeed.

Yours sincerely

 

 

I would suggest that you send this letter to this person without a reference number and not using your own name in order to minimise the chance of any warning signs being flagged up.

You will have to look through the Internet to find the address of The Group Corporate Responsibility Manager but I expect that it will be available.

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What would be the basis of your complaint to the ICO?

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Well I would send the letter by post. If you use the same address then if they put two and two together – so be it. I suppose it's not massively serious but it might be better if they were not on inquiry when they read the letter.
I fully expect them to decline your request – either simply to decline it or on a pretext.

Have you sent the SAR's?

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Look up the website for the Aviva insurance in the UK and see if you can find the data protection officer and send it there. If not, send the SAR to any registered address that relates to their insurance. It is their duty to make sure that it gets to the right department. As long as you get the SAR into their door then the problem is theirs.

Make sure that you don't simply send it to a box number if you can avoid it. Send it to a proper recognisable postal address.

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I'm sure the template is fine. I've already made suggestions about the Aviva address in my previous post

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Still waiting for your bullet pointed chronology

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Well let's get all the story together as quickly as possible so we can understand it all.

Also, please can you space your posts properly. They're very difficult to read when they are a solid block of text especially when people use a small screen.

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I've been trying to put together a much shorter chronology of what has happened.

A lot of what you have written is about the investigation and that's not relevant to helping us understand why the problem occurred in the first place.

This is what I have so far:

July 2015

Brother took victim to car dealer to buy car ostensibly with a loan for £6000 in her name.

Signed the agreement without paying attention.

Discovered that loan was for £25,000 for white BMW

direct debit – £391 per month

BMW car registered in victim’s name and insured in her name

September 2015

Brother sold car without permission or knowledge of victim for £16,000.

Victim too frightened to talk about it with brother. Brother may have forged signature on V5 document

 

Brother kept on making loan repayments

August 2019

Letter from insurer referring to a conversation with the brother. Apparently insurance policy was cancelled.

November 2019

Discovered that insurer had voided insurance since inception due to identity fraud.

Police informed and crime reference number obtained

December 2019

Brother stop making loan repayments. Victim had to start making payments from her own savings.

Complaint made to Barclays that loan was mis-sold as brother had lied to them about the financial status of the victim.

Barclays upheld complaints and refunded some payments.

January 2020

Receive default notice from Aviva insurer. They had apparently written in 2018 but letter was only received January 2020

 

Aviva wrote off a single payment. Close account and sent resolution letter.

February 2020

Aviva sent another default notice concerning missed payments. 

Page two

 

6 February

brother is apparently transferring vehicles online

12th February

use bank transfer to set up direct debit to RSPCA

28th February

insurance letter informing of money outstanding on cancelled insurance policy

victim contacted insurer and they agreed to stop further letters or reminders

29th February

Aviva sent letter saying that a full year’s premium was due. Aviva told that it was fraudulent and warned them that brother might try to make a chargeback.

Brother did make chargeback and Aviva went ahead and reversed it – no problem.

End of February 2020

brother had by then reversed all premiums for policies taken out from 2015 to 2018 – amounting to total £2891

13 February 2020

FOS complaints started..

 

 

 

 

 

Please will you comment very briefly on any of this.

 

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