ASA raps SMS financial ad

The Advertising Standards Authority has stepped up its clampdown on misleading financial services advertising by banning a campaign that implied a company could easily write off debt.

Lord Smith: Ads under inspection
Lord Smith: Ads under inspection

The watchdog ruled against an SMS campaign from Claim Management UK which stated that because of new Government legislation “you can now get your debt wiped out”.

The ASA ruled that recipients of the text “were likely to infer that the new government legislation offered a relatively straight­forward way of writing off debts which was available to everyone” because the text did not list any specific conditions.

Claim Management UK acknowledged that the text was “unacceptably worded”, adding that there had been a “failure involving the software they used when sending grouped text messages, which had allowed messages sent in older campaigns to be reactivated”. It adds that it has since changed its system to ensure the problem does not reoccur.

In April, ASA chairman Lord Smith told Marketing Week that the watchdog would look closely at ads that implied debt “can be taken lightly”, adding that this was “not sensible and proper advertising”.

Separate complaints that the text was unsolicited and did not give recipients an opportunity to opt out, were also upheld.

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