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FSA&#39s hotline bids to blow whistle on misleading ads

A hotline has been set up by the FSA for the public and company staff to report in strict confidence on misleading advertisements for financial products.

It is asking the industry to inform on firms which break the rules by not being clear about the risks as well as the benefits of an investment and making unrealistic claims in advertisements. The FSA has set up a new department to monitor advertising and is forming a specialist team which will visit firms to help ensure their systems and controls comply.

In the past year, the FSA has dealt with 580 advertising-related cases with 359 different firms.

Financial organisations spent £683m in 2003 on advertising in newspapers and TV.

FSA spokeswoman Jackie Blyth says: “We are asking IFAs and firms to use the hotline for them to protect the reputation of their industry and gain business from those who are prepared to break the rules to gain an unfair advantage.”

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