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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Advice to prevent Farepak repeat
Charlie Dimmock and some of the people who suffered as a result of Farepak's collapse
Farepak victims won't get much compensation
An information campaign has been launched to help people who put money into savings clubs and prevent a repeat of the Farepak disaster.

The hamper firm's collapse last year ruined Christmas for tens of thousands of people, who did not get the goods or gift vouchers they had saved for.

Victims have been warned they will get no more than 5p in every pound saved.

The Office of Fair Trading campaign will help consumers choose the safest options for Christmas saving.

More than 150,000 people lost an average of 400 when Swindon-based hamper operator Farepak failed.

Following a government review earlier this year, money paid into similar Christmas savings schemes will from now on be kept in ring-fenced accounts so customers' money can be returned to them should the company go bust.

The collapse of Farepak shows how important these decisions are for many consumers
John Fingleton, OFT chief executive

The 1m campaign, commissioned and funded by the Treasury, is designed to help consumers understand the full range of options when putting money away in the short term for events like Christmas.

These include unsecured schemes organised through a local milkman to the safest arrangements such as putting money into a bank or building society.

Important decisions

"The collapse of Farepak when thousands of families lost money at a critical time, shows how important these decisions are for many consumers," said OFT chief executive John Fingleton at the launch, which was promoted by TV gardener Charlie Dimmock.

"The bulk of our work in this campaign will involve working with community groups on the ground to increase people's knowledge and skills about their choices."

Teresa Perchard, director of policy at Citizens Advice, welcomed the initiative.

"We want to ensure that people who are saving up for Christmas know which forms of saving protect consumers' money and which do not," she said.


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