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Misleading adverts

Statements made in advertising must not mislead or omit any relevant information.

There are also specific legal requirements for traders to include details such as their name and a geographical address. And, where the advertisement is an invitation to buy, the price of goods or the way in which the price is calculated must be given, along with information about postage charges and the right to cancel a contract and return goods.

Adverts that offer credit must comply with consumer credit regulations and provide information including the total cost for credit and the annual percentage rate (APR).

Some advertising practices are also prohibited. These include:

  • advertising a product as free when the consumer has to pay more than the cost of reply and delivery charges;
  • including an invoice with unsolicited goods, creating the impression goods have been ordered when they have not;
  • falsely claiming a product can cure illnesses, dysfunction or malformations; and
  • claiming a trader is closing down or moving when this is not so.

Complaints can be made to Trading Standards.

In addition, the Advertising Standards Authority enforces the Advertising Codes. These aim to ensure advertising is "legal, decent, honest and truthful" and include rules that advertising must be responsible and must not mislead or offend. They set specific rules that cover advertising to children and for alcohol, gambling, motoring, health and some financial products. Financial advertisements relating to investments are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

To reduce the amount of unwanted advertising material by direct mail or unsolicited phone calls you receive, you can register with the Mailing Preference Service and the Telephone Preference Service.

This page was last updated on 17 September 2013