ASA Adjudication on Debt Specialists Ltd Debt Specialists Ltd
8‒10 Bolton Street
4 December 2013
Number of complaints:
A text message, from a Payment Protection Insurance claims management company, stated "We're contacting you regarding your PPI claim, we now have details of how much you could be due, reply POST and we will post a pack out".
Two complainants challenged whether the claim "We're contacting you regarding your PPI claim, we now have details of how much you could be due" was misleading and could be substantiated, because they had never taken out such cover.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Debt Specialists Ltd said the text message was sent by a third-party company on their behalf. They said the message was sent to recipients on a speculative basis to make them aware that they offered a service in helping to reclaim Payment Protection Insurance (PPI). The message alluded to providing the recipient with an opportunity to get further information on making a PPI claim, should they have taken out PPI, and the message was not intended to imply that they had details of the recipient having taken out PPI.
Debt Specialists said the message was intended to be personal to recipients, which was why it stated "We're contacting you regarding your PPI claim". The wording "we now have details of how much you could be due" related to how they would work with the recipient after they responded to the text message. They said that when recipients responded to the text message they contacted the recipient to discuss whether they may have been mis-sold PPI and what the details of that may have been.
They then worked with the recipient to calculate how much compensation they might be owed should they wish to pursue a claim, and would provide information on their fees. After making those calculations they would be able to provide an indicative figure to the recipient as to how much they could receive in total.
The ASA considered consumers would understand the claim "We're contacting you regarding your PPI claim, we now have details of how much you could be due" to mean that the company sending the message had definitive information, prior to contacting the recipient, that the recipient had been mis-sold PPI and how much money they would be able to claim back.
We understood that in fact Debt Specialists did not have such information and the text messages were sent to recipients on a purely speculative basis. Debt Specialists were only able to determine whether a recipient might have a PPI claim and the amount of a potential claim once the recipient responded to the text message and provided that information to them directly. We therefore concluded the claim in the ad had not been substantiated, and was therefore misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Debt Specialists not to make claims for which they did not hold substantiation.