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Himani Chandna Gurtoo and Mahua Venkatesh , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 16, 2013
Do you feel duped after you made any investment or bought a financial product lured by advertisement? Such misleading fine print or advertising copy with incorrect information may soon be a thing of the past.

You would typically find advertisements in print and audio-visual media displaying the best case scenario while hiding the caution messages, warnings or clarification statements by putting them in smaller fonts or in obscure corners. Advertisements show the highest possible, lucrative rates to catch the attention while the rates are wrapped under dubious terms and conditions, an official pointed out.

Now, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory voluntary organisation, is reviewing guidelines for advertisements in the financial sector. It is expected to come up with a new set of ad-rules for banks, mutual funds and insurance ads.


“ASCI has found discrepancies in advertisements pertaining to the advertised interest rate, use of abnormally small font to clarify terms and conditions and misleading claims in financial sector ads,” said Bharat Patel, official spokesperson, ASCI.

Sample this: The advertisement of Max Life Insurance claimed that Max Life has “lowest cost child insurance plan in insurance history’’. The company failed to substantiate the claim with statistical or other necessary data. When contacted, a Max Life Insurance spokesperson said: “The advertisement was released by our agency without informing us and we have reiterated that no ad should be released without company approval.”

The ministry of corporate affairs has also stressed the need to bring in more awareness. The government, RBI and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) have undertaken massive campaigns to increase awareness especially to attract small retail investors.

To create honest and non-misleading advertisements, the council has invited suggestions from the European Advertising Standards Alliance.

“We are considering global standards and practices to ensure consumer safety when it comes to its hard-earned money,” Patel said.