Small Print

With some advertisements you'd need a magnifying glass to read all the details, so it can be all too easy to miss something important. There are some regulations regarding the relative prominence given to specific information. For example, the Consumer Credit Act requires that loan advertisements display the 'true' interest rate (Annual Percentage Rate - APR - see p. more prominently than any other interest rate and at least as prominently as various statements describing the loan. 'Prominence' encompasses not just the size of type, but other techniques also, such as use of colour, position and repetition. The Financial Services Act includes some similar rules - for example, information about the risks inherent in an investment can't be shown in type that's smaller than that used for the main text of the advertisement. But such rules are patchy, and there's no general requirement for all parts of all advertisements to be easily legible, nor any official guidance on how ease of reading could be achieved.

Advertisements on television and radio

Advertisements broadcast on television and radio must comply with a code of practice set up and administered by the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA). Statutory requirements, such as those of the Financial Services Act and Consumer Credit Act, also apply.

The IBA code has a section dealing specially with financial advertising. An advertisement will normally be accepted only if it relates to a business which is governed by statute law or by some other form of proper regulation - for example, banking business can usually be advertised only by banks within the meaning of the Banking Act 1987, general insurance by companies conducting business under the Insurance Companies Act 1982 and investments by those authorised under the Financial Services Act 1986.

Some regulations regarding the relative prominence of information such as those under the Consumer Credit Act - apply to broadcast advertisements as well as printed ones. In the context of television, or radio, advertisements could contravene such rules if, for example, information were not given additional emphasis or shown in larger type on the screen

Advertisements which reach your television or radio are fairly unlikely to be breaking the rules because they are all vetted on behalf of the IBA before being cleared for transmission.

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Mailing Lists

There are two types of e-mailing lists. 'Compiled lists' are made up, often by specialist companies, from freely available information, such as that contained in electoral registers, street or phone directories, share registers, and so on. 'Response lists' are compiled within an organisation either for internal use or for rent or sale to other organisations. You get onto a response list as a result of buying something or showing an interest in a product - for example, you might subscribe to a particular magazine, or have taken out cover with a motoring organisation.

It's good practice for... see: Mailing Lists

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