Irish

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Credit Unions are worst offenders for breaching ad rules

John Mulligan

Published 15/07/2014 | 00:00

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An investigation by the Central Bank found that two-thirds of credit union adverts it studied failed to properly adhere to Consumer Credit Agreement regulations
An investigation by the Central Bank found that two-thirds of credit union adverts it studied failed to properly adhere to Consumer Credit Agreement regulations

The country's credit unions are the biggest offenders for non-compliance with financial marketing rules designed to protect consumers.

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An investigation by the Central Bank found that two-thirds of credit union adverts it studied failed to properly adhere to Consumer Credit Agreement regulations introduced by the EU in 2012.

The failure is significantly worse than that of banks or moneylenders.

Among banks, 99pc of the adverts analysed by the Central Bank were found to be in compliance with the marketing rules, while among moneylenders the compliance rate was 88pc.

The Central Bank examined 291 adverts from 23 firms across print, radio and online that were in circulation between November 2013 and March 2014.

It found that 30pc of them did not contain all relevant information or display information in a clear, concise and prominent way by means of a representative example as set out in the EU rules.

"Consumers must be confident that financial products and services, including loans, are advertised and marketed in a way that is clear, fair and not misleading," said Central Bank director of consumer protection Bernard Sheridan.

He said the rules had been put in place to protect consumers who borrow money from firms, and that all firms are required to have the appropriate arrangements in place to ensure compliance with them.

All of the institutions behind offending adverts have been contacted by the Central Bank.

It said that where issues have been identified, firms have been asked to withdraw and amend the advertisements to ensure they comply with the rules.

Action

It warned that further regulatory action may be considered where issues are not dealt with satisfactorily.

Of the ads examined in the study, 50pc were online or involved direct customer communications, 26pc were in newspapers, and 24pc on either billboards, brochures or catalogues, or on the radio.

Last year, the Central Bank also probed 182 general advertising issues under consumer protection criteria. Of those ads examined, 154 had to be either withdrawn or amended.

Earlier this year, the Central Bank ordered 200 credit unions - half of the country's total - to cut their lending because of high levels of loan arrears in the sector.

Irish Independent

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