Specific policies and restrictions are applicable to all advertising for financial products and services (i.e., banking/investment/money management products and services, loans, mortgage foreclosure prevention/protection, insurance products, etc.). As an advertiser, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your website, advertisements, and advertisement landing pages conform to all applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulatory requirements and regulatory guidance.
All advertising for financial services and products must include all disclosures required by applicable federal, state and local law. These may include, without limitation:
- material restrictions on use or availability of the advertised products or services
- risk factors
- fees, costs and expenses
- implications for non-payment (e.g., fees, collection practices, etc.)
- genuine and current contact information or physical address (no PO Box) for the business being promoted.
In addition, use in an advertisement of certain terms and conditions (e.g., “2.99% APR” for loan financing) may require disclosure of additional significant terms and conditions in the advertisement relating to the product or service. If permitted by applicable law, all necessary disclosure must at a minimum appear on the advertising landing page. Additionally, all advertisements must comply with the Misleading messaging policies and Privacy and data protection policies.
For the purpose of this policy, personal loans are those where an individual or organization lends money on a nonrecurring basis to an individual consumer. Some examples of these types of loans are payday loans, pawnshops, and title loans. Lending for the purchase of a fixed asset or for educational purposes, such as a student loan or a car loan is not included in this policy. This policy applies to direct loan providers, lead generators, and those who connect lenders and consumers. For all Personal Loans:
- Minimum and maximum period for repayment must be clearly stated
- The maximum APR must be provided (for purposes of this policy, APR considers all fees associated with the personal loan, including interest, initiation or late fees, or any fees related to the loan)
- The total cost of the loan to the consumer, including all applicable fees must be disclosed
- Loans cannot have an APR that exceeds 36% including all applicable costs and fees
- Full repayment cannot be required in fewer than 60 days
Short-term loan advertisers must be members of at least one of the following associations: The Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA), Financial Service Centers of America (FiSCA), or The Online Lenders Alliance (OLA).
In addition to specific disclosure requirements, deceptive acts or practices in connection with the offering of consumer financial products or services are prohibited. An advertisement is deceptive if is discloses information, or omits material information, in such a way as to be misleading to a reasonable consumer. Material terms (i.e., terms that are likely to affect a consumer’s choice of, or conduct regarding, the product or service) must be disclosed prominently, in a manner that a reasonable consumer will notice, and in close proximity with claims that such terms modify. For example, stating that a car loan is available for no money down but disclosing additional regulatory costs in fine print or buried within other disclosures can be deceptive. In addition, it can be deceptive to misrepresent the terms of a loan, either by misstating the nature of the term (e.g., fixed versus variable interest rate) or through inequitable comparisons with other loan products.
Advertisements for certain financial products and services can raise appreciable compliance concerns and may attract heightened scrutiny. Such products and services may include, but are not limited to:
- Automobile lending
- Payday and other small-dollar credit (i.e., traditionally this has encompassed retail financial products that allow consumers to easily borrow small amounts of cash in return for their pledge of a check dated for the next payday as collateral. This may include short-term, low balance loans with high finance charges intended to help cover a consumer’s cash-flow shortages, usually requiring a consumer to give electronic access to their bank accounts)
- Debt settlement and debt relief (i.e., services to help renegotiate, settle or change terms of a borrower’s debt to a creditor or a debt collector)
- Credit and fraud monitoring, identity theft protection services (e.g., services that provide alerts to potentially fraudulent activity or that offer credit reports)
- Credit cards targeted at students, military, and consumers with poor credit profiles (e.g., secured credit cards)
- Virtual currencies
- Brokerage services, stocks and bonds, futures, options trading services or other investment products and services