Advertising watchdog bans 'misleading' equity release ad using Martin Lewis's name
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an online advert from an equity release firm after ruling it was 'misleading' and wrong to use MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis's name.
The paid-for ad, which appeared on the MSN.com website, was spotted by a member of the public in late January and reported to the ASA through the new scam ad reporting tool it launched last June. It included the text 'Martin Lewis Equity Release Calculator - Release Cash From Your Home' and linked to the website equityreleaseplus.co.uk, despite the fact that Martin NEVER does ads and had nothing to do with the website.
Sadly, Martin's face has been plastered all over the internet, seemingly advertising all manner of products he has never heard of and has nothing to do with. Don't be fooled - see our Fake Martin Lewis ads guide for some of the worst examples, and what to do if you've spotted one.
What the ASA's ruling said
In a ruling published this week, the ASA said it had investigated the complaint but had had no response from equityplus.co.uk, which it said was in itself a breach of the Committee for Advertising Practice code. We also contacted the site for comment this week but have had no response.
The ASA said: "We considered that customers would understand that the ad was a financial product by Martin Lewis... We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading."
The ASA said the advert must not appear again in its current form and equityrelease.co.uk had been told "to ensure they did not imply their service was associated with Martin Lewis or any specific individual unless that was the case". It has also passed the matter to the Committee for Advertising Practice's compliance team - we've asked what action will be taken as a result and will update this story when we hear back.
Martin NEVER does ads - if you see one wrongly using his name, report it
Martin will never appear on online adverts to endorse a financial product, so we always urge MoneySavers who spot one using his name to report it. We've full help on what to look out for and what to do in our Fake Martin Lewis ads guide, but in brief:
- Check if there's a button on the ad itself you can use to report it. Some online ads have buttons on them which you can use to either hide them or report them to the advertising company. It usually looks like an ‘X’, or on Facebook it looks like three dots.
- Report it to the Advertising Standards Authority. If you've seen something you believe is a scam, you can report it using this form on the ASA website.
You can use the form to report all kinds of online scam ads, including ads on newspaper websites, search engines and social media. The ads need to be in paid-for space online.
You'll be asked a short series of questions, such as where and when you saw the advert and why you believe it to be a scam. It'll also be helpful if you can provide extra information such as a link to the ad if possible, and, if you clicked the ad, a link to the page it took you to.
The ASA says you won't receive a personal response to your report – so don't expect an ad to be removed immediately after you've reported it. But the watchdog says it assesses the reports it receives and uses them as intelligence in its action to tackle scam ads and works with ad networks and online publishers to remove obvious scam ads as quickly as possible.