Misleading financial promotions

Find out the difference between clear and misleading financial advertising, and what to do when you think a financial advert is misleading.

Financial promotions or adverts are likely to be the most regular contact consumers have with firms that offer financial services and products. These promotions can be across any medium – websites, social media posts, mobile apps, etc – and can provide valuable insight into a firm's conduct.

We regulate advertising for most financial services. This includes products such as:

  • loans (e.g. payday loans, guarantor loans, car finance, peer to peer)
  • investments (e.g. bonds, stocks and shares, contract for differences, collective investment schemes, loan and equity based crowdfunding)
  • cash savings and bank accounts
  • insurance (e.g. home, motor, travel)
  • pensions
  • mortgages (including equity release)
  • life assurance
  • payment services and e-money (excluding cash-to-cash ‘bureaux de change’ activities)
  • claims management (including personal injury, criminal injury and employment related)

If you have an issue that doesn’t relate to a financial product, or you want to complain about the more general parts of an advert or promotion such as its taste and decency, or in relation to its social responsibility, please contact the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

For more details regarding the split of regulatory responsibility regarding financial promotions, please view our MoU with the ASA.  

Spot a misleading financial promotion

Financial promotions can be unfair, unclear or misleading for many reasons. Here are some questions to help you spot and avoid the misleading ones.

  • What are the risks to my money and is this clear?
  • How long do I have to commit for?
  • Does the promotion make it clear who you are dealing with and/or who will be providing the product/service?
  • Are there any penalties if I want to move my money?
  • Does the promotion create an unrealistic expectation of the product?
  • Is there important information that only appears in the small print?
  • Is the promotion balanced (i.e. are both the benefits and negatives explained)?
  • Is it explained to you clearly what you need to pay or how much you will end up paying?
  • Does the promotion suggest the FCA has approved or endorsed the product? We do not approve financial promotions and the firms statement regarding their regulation should be factual only (e.g. ‘Authorised and Regulated by the FCA’).
  • Does the promotion suggest the product is ‘secured’, ‘guaranteed’ or ‘protected’ in any way? If so, does it make it clear how this security/guarantee/protection is provided?
  • Is the promotion issued by a company that is not authorised and regulated by the FCA? If so, does it make it clear which regulated firm has approved the promotion? Does it make it clear that the investment does not benefit from regulatory protections such as access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)?

Report a misleading financial promotion

If you see a financial promotion that you feel is unfair, unclear or misleading, please tell us by completing our online reporting form.

The form will ask you for details about the financial promotion, and provides options to contact us by post or email if you prefer.

When we find that a financial promotion is misleading we can:

  • ask the firm to change or remove the advert
  • ask the firm to write to customers who may have been misled
  • warn or fine the firm
  • ban the promotion

Who else to contact

Please be aware that we cannot resolve individual disputes you have with a firm. If you're unhappy with a financial product or service, find out how to complain.