As Jeremy Paxman knows a good question can be worth a huge amount of money.
In this case, the key to these questions is to find out if you’ve had cash unfairly ripped out of your pocket that you can now get back.
Many have and the amounts are huge, you could be due £100s, £1,000s or even £10,000s, so you may just want to answer the following….
Q. Do you, or have you paid a monthly fee for your bank account?
These products can be a great way to get free insurance, if you make an active choice to find the best. However, if you got a packaged bank account because the bank upgraded you, upsold you or said there was no choice but to get one, there’s a decent chance you were mis-sold.
A typical example includes being upgraded to 'free travel insurance', yet not being told you're excluded for your age or pre-existing conditions. Or being told, as many are, that it's the only way to get a larger overdraft.
This campaign's been a slow burner. When I first launched it in Jan 2013, successes were few and far between. Now people contact me almost daily telling me they're getting their fees back, such as Natasha: "I had a fee-paying account for years. Every time I tried to cancel they gave me a reason I couldn't. I used your template, it took about 10 minutes. Then 10 days later I received over £3,000 back." Full help at www.mse.me/packagedaccounts.
Q. Urgent - have you binned a letter worth £100s?
7m people who've had debit or credit cards since 2005 have been sent what are effectively "fill this in to get your money back" letters from CPP. Yet it’s likely many people binned them, confusing them with PPI junk mail (CPP is totally separate to PPI), such as Angela who tweeted me: "Threw it away, then heard your advice and retrieved it, received over £200."
Forms need be returned by 30 August, or as it currently stands, you won't get the money that was put aside to pay you. Full help on filling in the form, or what to do if you’ve lost it at www.mse.me/CPP.
Q. Have you switched energy provider in the last six years?
If you were in credit when you left, many energy firms effectively operate a "don't ask, don't get" policy - and most people don't ask. The regulator estimates the big six alone owe 3.5m people £200m. Even if you left years ago, you can still get, just call up your old provider and ask. As PST wrote in my forum: "I switched from EDF last October and they hadn't refunded my credit, which was nearly £200. Plus they agreed to pay me £25 for not refunding in a timely manner."
Q. Have you racked up big fees for going beyond your overdraft limit?
If so you can be charged £5 a day or up to £25 per transaction. For some who are struggling, charges on charges can add up to £1,000s over the years, locking them into desperate finances.
Reclaiming bank charges was a huge campaign I was involved in back in 2006 with 6million template letters downloaded and £1bn back for people, then it was overturned on a technical decision at the Supreme Court. Yet rumours of the death of bank charge reclaiming have been greatly exaggerated – however now the charges need to have contributed to real financial hardship for reclaiming to be possible.
Yet as ra2010 from my forum proves, it’s still possible: "I was in financial hardship & in a constant cycle of charges. Today I was astonished by the £2,500 sitting in my bank." Free help in www.mse.me/bankcharges.
Q. Are you in a higher council tax band than neighbours in similar homes?
Back in 1991, in a panic to replace the poll tax, the Government ordered home valuations to be done on the fly for the new council tax. In England and Scotland, it's never been redone since, leaving up to 400,000 homes in the wrong band.
If you think yours is too high you can get it lowered and a backdated pay out from when you moved in. I launched this system back in 2007, and we've drowned with successes ever since, such as Janice's...
"Checked out my council tax banding... Wiltshire Council have just put £2,300 into my bank account. A refund right back to 1993."
Yet beware don’t just ask them to investigate speculatively as they can put you up a band as well as down. First check whether you’re in a higher band to neighbours in similar properties, then see what your house was worth back in 1991. Full help to do this at www.mse.me/council
Q. Have you had a loan or credit card in the past 20 years?
You've almost certainly heard of PPI reclaiming. We've had 5.5m free PPI reclaiming template letters downloaded and more than £15bn has been paid back. While not a bad product, banks systemically mis-sold PPI, which covers debt repayments - often to those who could never have claimed.
Many are still owed cash without realising it. Don't think that because you said NO to PPI you definitely don't have it – it was sometimes added even when people rejected it.
Payouts can be huge as Dennis tweeted: "I got back just under £11,000 in PPI, money stolen from me because I have always been self-employed." And there’s no need to pay a company to do it, there’s nothing they can do that you can’t do yourself, full help, free templates and FAQ at www.mse.me/PPI and www.which.co.uk.
Q. Do you wear a uniform to work (and wash it yourself)?
If you wear a branded T-shirt, overalls or a nurses' uniform for work (not fun), you don't wear it elsewhere and you wash it yourself, you may be entitled to a tax rebate, possibly going back up to four years.
As Kevbev wrote in my forum: "Finally got around to doing this. I've been in a uniformed role for 5 years now, got a very tasty £250 back." And again ignore anyone charging you to do this, do it yourself. Free help at www.mse.me/uniforms