Rebecca Armstrong: If only I'd been mis-sold some PPI – what a nest egg!

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  • @RebeccaJ

A few months ago I had a phone call that left me baffled. A chatty woman told me she was thrilled to "finally" get hold of me. Which was odd, as I had no record of any missed calls or messages from her. But it was lucky she'd got me now, she enthused, as she was sure she was going to be able to help me.

Had I ever taken out any payment protection insurance? No. Not on a loan? No. A credit card? Nope. Mortgage? Nada. Store card? Don't believe in them. About the only piece of financial advice that my father has given me that sank in is to shun PPI on the basis that, should you ever need it, whoever sold it to you will manage to weasel out of paying it like greased lightning. Since I'd never been mis-sold any PPI, I bade her farewell.

That first drop in the ocean was nothing compared to the flood of calls I now get every day on my home phone, the daily texts from different firms and the endless emails inviting me to use services to recover cash I never spent in the first place. But having heard stories about the size of the refunds some people have received, I'm beginning to wish I'd been taking out the stuff left, right and centre in the hope that some of it was dodgy.

One of my followers on Twitter scored £3,500 from one bank and £250 from another, while a friend tells me of an acquaintance who took out so many loans with PPI that he's had a £30,000 windfall – he now wishes he'd taken out more: "I got a way better rate than a savings account". Then I'd be sitting on a nice little nest egg. Thanks for nothing, Dad.

Given that banks, card firms and building societies have paid out £3.5bn in PPI refunds, it's no wonder that claims companies are sending out missives with such glee. It's also not terribly surprising to hear that bogus claims are booming: according to the Building Societies Association, the eight largest mutuals received 22,441 unfounded claims in just six months.

It seems unlikely that the clamour of the claims industry is going to die down soon. I think I might have to record an answer phone message that says "I wasn't daft enough to take the stuff out to begin with, alas, but if I had been, I'd like to think I wouldn't be silly enough to pay you lot anything to reclaim my wonga when I can do it for nothing by going on and filling in a form".

However, since business seems to be so brisk, I no longer get calls from cheerful ladies, but automated men instead. Obviously call centre operatives are the second victims of the PPI mis-selling debacle.