Central Bank warns firms to get small print right in advertising
Published 15/02/2012 | 05:00
THE Central Bank has warned banks, insurance and other financial firms about misleading advertising to consumers
It said many advertising practices did not fully comply with the revised Consumer Protection Code.
It said it had already acted on a number of adverts it had concerns about and that the firms responsible had been required to amend or withdraw them.
A copy of the letter sent to firms said the small print carried in some adverts was so small that people were unable to read these warning messages.
The Central Bank said it expected to see clearer, more balanced advertising of financial products and services with equal prominence given to key information.
Director of Consumer Protection, Bernard Sheridan, said: "The Consumer Protection Directorate's strategy puts the consumer centre stage and our objective in relation to advertising is clear -- consumers should receive balanced information on advertised financial products and services.
"The Central Bank expects firms to bear this in mind when designing their advertisements and in deciding what information to include."
Highlighting specific issues, the Central Bank said:
• In some ads there are concerns about fairness, clarity, accuracy and potential to mislead in terms of content and presentation.
• Key information in relation to the product is not sufficiently prominent in some advertisements.
• Ads have been identified where the qualifying criteria are not included with the minimum price or potential maximum saving in the main body of the advertisement.
Regulators said the key information and eligibility criteria should be stated with the minimum price or potential maximum saving in the main body of the advertisement and must be prominent.
Firms must also be aware of the differing sizes of proposed advertisements, and consider how they may appear in their final formats.
Earlier this week, regulators listed 10 areas where regulated entities and their management "can expect vigorous investigation and follow-up" where serious regulatory breaches occur.
It outlined mortgage arrears as an area of concern.
The Central Bank will consider enforcement action in the areas of retail intermediaries, payment protection insurance, client asset requirements, prudential requirements and transaction reporting.