Watch out for ASIC crack-down, warn lawyers

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Businesses within the financial services should be particularly careful to not have misleading content on their websites, as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission is having a crack-down, warn financial law consultants.
ASIC has been particularly proactive about information that incorrectly states the interest rates for loans and savings accounts, makes “outlandish” claims about self-managed super funds or tries to induce investors without presenting all the risks, said lawyer Charmian Holmes at The Fold Legal.
Earlier this month ASIC fined media industry super fund Media Super $10,200, after it displayed on its website potentially misleading statements about the costs of SMSFs compared to its own offerings.  

Financial services websites and social media activities need to abide by print and TV media laws and regulations to make sure they do not attract ASIC’s attention for all the wrong reasons, Holmes said
“The main thing to be aware of is that you must represent your business and its services honestly and accurately.
“If what you say about your products and services on your website or social media pages is likely to mislead or deceive, fines, penalties, corrective advertising, refunds and other sanctions can apply.”
The Fold has provided guidelines designed to help financial services and credit businesses meet their website content and social media obligations:
  • Keep website information up-to-date at all times
  • Don’t ‘stretch’ the truth – ever
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep
  • Tell your customers the good and the not so good
  • Clearly identify the service or product provider
  • Avoid comparisons
  • Only use genuine customer testimonials
“In a nutshell, ASIC expects you to honestly and accurately describe your products and services,” Holmes said.

“Everything you do and say about your business, your services and your products on your websites and on your social media accounts should therefore be a true reflection of your offering.”
More information on social media guidelines is available on The Fold’s blog, Frankology.