The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned advertising by Claim Management UK for making misleading claims.
Claim Management UK had sent out text messages containing the phrase ‘Due to new government legislation, you can now get your debt wiped out’. The ASA investigated and found Claim Management UK were unable to substantiate the claims.
The ASA stated the wording of the message did not feature any qualifications or conditions. As a result they thought that ‘recipients were likely to infer that the new government legislation offered a relatively straightforward way of writing off debts which was available to everyone’.
The ASA also upheld a second complaint about the marketing practices of Claim Management UK, as the recipients had not given permission and the text message was therefore unsolicited. When the ASA challenged Claim Management UK, the company stated that it was unable to trace the source of the contact details.
Ministry of Justice warnings
A spokesman for the ASA told us that complaints about recent claims handling companies’ ads, that claimed they could ‘get your debt wiped out’, had been formally investigated and found in breach of the advertising codes. They also told us that their rulings set a precedent for the sector and make clear what these companies can and can’t say, and that they have liaised with the Ministry of Justice, who are responsible for regulating the sector, throughout. For further details see http://www.claimsregulation.gov.uk.
This view is supported Which?. Our spokesman Martyn Saville said: ‘Rather than seeking to write off their debts by responding to unsubstantiated advertising claims, individuals struggling with debts should seek independent, free debt advice directly from organisations such as the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (0800 138 1111), National Debtline (0808 808 4000) or their local Citizens Advice Bureau.’
Which? has also reported another claims handling company to the Ministry of Justice for making exaggerated claims with regard to credit card agreements. Watch out for the story in Consumer News in August’s edition of Which? magazine.
For further details about the MOJ’s regulation of claims handling companies see www.claimsregulation.gov.uk
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