A website for Career Study College, www.careerstudycollege.com, seen on 1 February 2018, featured in its “Financial Services Courses” section a web page titled “LIBF LEVEL 3 CEMAP - CERTIFICATE IN MORTGAGE ADVICE”. The page featured text stating “The London Institute of Banking and Finance Level 3 (CeMap) Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice course offers an ideal route for candidates wanting to start a career as a Mortgage Adviser”. Under “COURSE DETAILS” the page stated that the CeMAP was an “approved qualification”, and “Course Study Pack Includes: FULL OFFICIAL LIBF ACCREDITED STUDY TEXT… QUALIFICATION: Upon completion you will receive a certificate documenting that you are LIBF CeMAP Level 3 Certificate in Mortgage Advice qualified”. Under a link titled “Buy Now” the page also featured a logo stating “The London Institute of Banking & Finance”.
The complainant, who understood the Career Study College was not an approved third-party provider of the London Institute of Banking & Finance’s (LIBF) Level Three Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP), challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that:
1. Career Study College was an accredited provider of the LIBF CeMap; and
2. official LIBF course materials would be included in the course study pack.
Persons Unknown t/a Career Study College did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
The ASA noted that there was no registered legal entity behind the website www.careerstudycollege.com and the registrant of the website had used a domain privacy service to set up the website which concealed their identity. They also appeared to have used a false address on the website. We were concerned by Career Study College’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
1. & 2. Upheld
The course web page included the claims “LIBF LEVEL 3 CEMAP” and “The London Institute of Banking and Finance Level 3 (CeMap)”, and a logo for “The London Institute of Banking & Finance”. It also stated that the course study pack included “FULL OFFICIAL LIBF ACCREDITED STUDY TEXT”. We considered that consumers would understand those claims to mean that the Career Study College were an approved third-party provider of the LIBF CeMAP, and that the course study pack was comprised of official LIBF learning materials.
We understood that the Career Study College were not recognised by the LIBF as a third-party provider of the CeMAP course, and had not been granted permission to use the LIBF logo. Additionally, the learning materials that were provided to the complainant by the Career Study College were not accredited or distributed by the LIBF.
Because the ad implied that the Career Study College were an accredited provider of the LIBF CeMAP and offered official LIBF learning materials, when that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising), and 3.50 3.50 Marketing communications must not display a trust mark, quality mark or equivalent without the necessary authorisation. Marketing communications must not claim that the marketer (or any other entity referred to), the marketing communication or the advertised product has been approved, endorsed or authorised by any public or other body if it has not or without complying with the terms of the approval, endorsement or authorisation. (Endorsements and testimonials).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Career Study College not to state or imply that they were an accredited provider of LIBF or other qualifications, or that their study pack was comprised of LIBF learning materials, if that was not the case. We also told them not to display the LIBF logo without the necessary authorisation. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.