OFT to launch probe into “misleading” ads

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is to investigate “misleading” advertising and pricing and its impact on consumers.

The study will look at which on and off-line pricing and advertising practices could be “detrimental” to consumers.

It will also look at the application of consumer law to advertising and pricing, “with a particular focus on the internet”.

It also “may” study where personal information gathered from consumer’s online activity “is used to target the internet advertising he or she receives”.

Heather Clayton, senior director of the OFT’s consumer market group, says it the department needs to “keep up to date on how consumers view these adverts and the types of advertising and prices which may mislead”.

The OFT study comes as the Advertising Standards Authority steps up its scrutiny of price comparison ads over fears that the recession will lead to an increasing number of misleading claims.

The OFT is asking for views on the scope of the study, which is expected to start in the autumn.

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