ASIC reprimands mortgage brokers for misleading advertising

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Four mortgage broking firms have been reprimanded by ASIC for misleading advertising targeting Chinese speaking home buyers.

The mortgage broking firms involved include Ace Mortgage Market in Parramatta, NSW; Aus Realty Group in Hurstville, NSW; Apex Finance & Mortgage in Burwood, NSW; and Trans Australia Mortgage Finance in Burwood and Chatswood, NSW.

The concerns contained in the advertisements targeting Chinese speaking home buyers included representations in Chinese such as “lowest fixed rate” and “no proof of income”. According to ASIC, these can be classified as false and misleading statements, or indicate a breach of the responsible lending obligations.

The advertisements also included heavy reliance on disclaimers that did not explain qualifying terms and conditions in the same advertising. 

In addition, the broking firms advertised benefits in the Chinese language, but stated the disclaimers and qualifications in English, despite the advertising being aimed at non-English speaking consumers.

ASIC also discovered failure to disclose the required comparison rate when quoting an annual percentage interest rate, failure to disclose the required warning about the accuracy of the comparison rates, and failure to regularly review the advertisements  to ensure accuracy and compliance with the law.

ASIC deputy chair Peter Kell said: “The Australian Consumer Law applies to all advertising, including advertising in foreign languages. Consumers who are unable to understand written English are likely to be more reliant on advertising in their native language when in need of a financial product. 

“Promoters should ensure that their advertising is up to date and complies with the law. If the majority of the advertising is in a foreign language, the warnings, disclaimers or qualifications should be prominently disclosed in the same advertising and explained in that same language.

“ASIC will continue to monitor all forms of advertising, including advertising targeted at non-English speaking consumers.”

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