Posted December 8, 2021
The Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, has welcomed today’s action from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), to uphold complaints against a company found to have used ‘misleading’ and ‘irresponsible’ debt advice adverts.
Online adverts from Financial Support Systems, trading as National Debt Service, were found to have misled consumers by suggesting that they were affiliated with the free debt advice charity National Debtline and endorsed by the UK Government. The ASA also concluded that the use of phrases related to bankruptcy were irresponsible, as National Debt Service was not qualified to make an assessment of whether bankruptcy was a suitable option for consumers.
The charity welcomed the decision and called on government, regulators and search engines to take further action to tighten up the rules to stop misleading adverts appearing in the first place.
The charity is warning anyone searching for debt advice online to be careful and to make sure it is a genuine debt advice service before clicking a link.
“Today’s ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority, following similar action earlier this year, shows that there is a serious issue with misleading debt advice adverts online. These adverts are far too common and pose a risk for people in debt as they can lead people down routes not suitable for their situation.
“This can result in people being in a worse position than when they started their search for debt advice, impacting both their financial and mental health.
“I am pleased to see that both the ASA, through this welcome action, and the FCA, through their proposals to ban debt packagers from taking fees for leads are taking steps to address poor practices in this area. More action is needed by government, regulators and search engines to stop these adverts appearing in the first place.
“Anyone searching for debt advice online should be wary of websites with claims like ‘Government approved’, as we and other debt advice charities would never say this. Beware of websites pretending to be us, and always check the web address before clicking through.”
National Debtline has information about what to look out for when searching for debt advice online at www.nationaldebtline.org/making-sure-its-us.
Details of this ruling from the ASA is available here.