Debt advice charities are backing a regulatory crackdown by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on “misleading” advertising by lead generators.
The ASA has made the decision to uphold complaints made by the Money and Pensions Service about advertising led by two debt lead generators, one of which purports to be associated with StepChange Debt Charity.
StepChange believes regulatory reform is needed to deal with these “misleading” practices, such as bringing lead generators for debt solutions inside the scope of Financial Conduct Authority regulation.
According to the debt charity, it recognises that the Insolvency Service and the recognised professional bodies for insolvency practitioners are both seeking to make improvements but said the fact that these problems have become “so entrenched for so long” suggests a need for further action.
Richard Lane, director of external affairs at StepChange, said: “The ASA has confirmed what we already knew: there is a lot of misleading advertising out there, including from outfits impersonating legitimate debt advice organisations. Along with the FCA’s warnings about clone firms impersonating debt advice charities like us, this confirmation is helpful, but it cannot be the end of the story.
“What matters now is that there is more decisive action taken by regulators to tighten up the oversight of how firms who provide IVAs acquire their customers.”