The FSA has set up a hotline for the public and firms to report in strict confidence misleading advertisements for financial products.
The initiative, launched today, is part of an FSA drive to regulate financial advertising. The new department which is leading the effort monitors advertising on television, the internet and in newspapers. The rules require adverts to be clear about the risks as well as the benefits of the investment. Charges must not be hidden and no unrealistic claims in headlines can be made.
In the past year, the FSA has dealt with 580 advertising-related cases with 359 different firms. Financial organisations rely heavily on advertising with £683m being spent in 2003 on financial advertising in newspapers and television alone.
The FSA is also setting up a specialist team which will visit firms to check their systems and controls for financial promotions comply with regulation.
FSA director of retail themes Anna Bradley says: “To help us put an end to misleading ads we need the eyes and ears of the public. The hotline will make it much easier for consumers and firms to report on adverts they believe flout the rules and will enable us to act quickly and if necessary remove the offending material before someone loses out.”