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Tuesday 29 April 2014

14-091MR Virgin Money pays 30600 dollar penalty for misleading advertising

Virgin Money (Australia) Pty Limited has paid $30,600 in penalties after ASIC issued three infringement notices for misleading online and television advertising. Each infringement notice imposed a penalty of $10,200.

The misleading representations related to the promotion of Virgin Money’s ‘Quick & Easy’ life insurance product, which appeared on television up until May 2013, and online up until March 2014.

ASIC was concerned that the advertising contained the following misleading representations about the process involved in applying for ‘Quick & Easy’ and the life insurance coverage provided under the product:

  • ‘No health or lifestyle questions’ would be asked by Virgin Money when in fact, the ‘Quick & Easy’ application form contained specific health and lifestyle questions, such as queries around smoking habits. Responses to these questions were then used to calculate premiums.

  • ‘Weight is not a factor that affects coverage of the Product’, when in fact weight could be a relevant factor in determining coverage offered under ‘Quick & Easy’.

ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said, ‘Purchasing life insurance is an important decision and consumers should be able to confidently rely on representations made to them in advertising’.

The payment of an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the

Australian Securities and Investment Commission Act 2001

consumer protection provisions. ASIC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.

View the register of infringement notices

Background

ASIC has taken action against six organisations for misleading advertising in 2014, with penalties totalling more than $120,000. This action includes:

  • Wealth Within Ltd pays $20,400 in penalties over misleading advertising (refer: 14-075MR)

  • Small amount lender pays $30,600 penalty for misleading online advertisements (refer: 14-065MR)

  • SuperHelp Australia Pty Ltd pays infringement notice in relation to FREE SMSF fund setup claims (refer: 14-051MR)

  • Finance broker pays $20,400 infringement notice penalty (refer: 14-022MR)

  • Media Super pays infringement notice in relation to superannuation advertising (refer: 14-001MR).

ASIC issued Regulatory Guide 234 Advertising financial products and services (including credit): Good practice guidance (RG 234) in November 2012.

Last updated: 29/04/2014 12:00