Today we published a new Enforcement Notice about Debt Management (IVA/PTD) Ads by Insolvency Practitioners and Lead Generation Companies.
The ASA has published several rulings about ads which offered consumers a way to write off debt in government approved schemes. These ads were not placed by FCA-authorised debt advisers but by lead generation companies or insolvency practitioners, and ultimately advertised services for individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) [in England, Wales, NI] or protected trust deeds (PTDs) [in Scotland].
Ads targeted at consumers with debt problems have the potential to cause serious detriment if they do not comply with the advertising rules. Insolvency practitioners and lead generation companies which ultimately advertise an IVA/PTD service must be extremely careful to ensure their advertising is responsible and does not mislead.
From Monday 25 July, the Compliance team will take targeted enforcement action to ensure a level-playing-field, which may include – where advertisers are unwilling to comply – referral to Trading Standards or an appropriate recognised professional body.
In summary, ads must:
- Clearly state the risks and fees involved.
- For lead generators, include a clear and prominent statement that they are a lead generation company which will pass on customer leads to third parties.
Ads must not:
- Imply association or approval from government, debt charities or regulated advisory bodies.
- Claim that customers “can write off up to 85% of their debts” or similar in the absence of robust documentary evidence.
- Exaggerate the simplicity or speed of the process or claim that customers can “Lower your debt today” or similar.
The Enforcement Notice goes into much further detail, and you can also see our advice about Debt management and individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs). If you advertise in this market, please review the Notice and take immediate steps to check your advertising and make any changes as needed.
- Claims, endorsements and testimonials
- Legal and regulation
- Financial products and services
- Children and the vulnerable
- Online, catch-up TV and radio, in-app and in-game
- Mailings, email, phone/fax and messaging
- TV and radio (broadcast only)
- Poster and other out of home
- Newspapers, magazines and printed materials