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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 June 2004, 12:05 GMT 13:05 UK
Endowment gripes rise four-fold
Millions of homeowners are facing endowment shortfalls
There has been a big jump in the number of people complaining about the mis-selling of endowment mortgages.

Complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service about endowments rose to 51,917, up from 13,570 on the previous year, the service's annual report said.

Millions are facing shortfalls on their endowments, an investment product sold heavily in the 1980s.

It is estimated that 3.5 million households are now facing shortfalls of more than 5,000 on their loans.

It was set up by law to help consumers settle complaints against financial firms
Complaints covered by the ombudsman range from travel insurance and pension plans to mortgages and savings
The service is free to consumers
You must complain to the firm first, before the ombudsman can look at your case
It cannot give personal advice about financial matters or debt problems
Telephone: 0845 080 1800

Many borrowers were told their endowments were guaranteed to pay off their mortgages, but some of those promises have fallen well short.

Consumer groups are concerned that many people are ignoring warnings about their endowment - and are also unaware they may be eligible to claim compensation for mis-selling.

In particular, there are strict rules surrounding the timing of complaints.

An estimated 700,000 people may have already left it too late to complain about their mortgage endowment. The general rule is that people must complain within three years of receiving their first "red letter" from their insurance company or lender.

The rise in endowment complaints accounted for a large part of the overall rise reported by the ombudsman.

In total, complaints made to the ombudsman were up by 57% on the previous year.

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