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:
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