Christmas Shopping Rush – Advertising Credit and Loans in Poland

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Christmas is one of the few times of the year when consumers make an unusually high number of above-normal purchases. Many of them take out loans or loans during this period to please their loved ones. Advertisements for both imply an additional information obligation to consumers.

Financial products are often advertised with superlatives such as: “cheapest”, “fastest” or – in relation to maturities: “0%”. The use of such terms in advertising is not prohibited, but their safe use depends on many factors. The President of the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (OCCP) may consider actions aimed at deceiving consumers or at failing to comply with information obligations towards consumers as harming the collective interests of consumers.

For example, the OCCP finds that an advertisement concerning a loan which promises that the consumer will be granted a loan within 15 minutes, without specifying that time is running out from the moment the loan application is approved, constitutes a unfair market practice. If an entity offering credit or a loan, including an intermediary (broker), does not indicate in an advertisement, all the costs associated with entering into a contract, or discloses these costs but in a manner suggesting that these costs are lower than they actually are, the OCCP can sue the entity and impose a monetary penalty. The amount of the penalty depends, among other things, on the seriousness of the violation and may amount to up to 10% of the entrepreneur’s turnover in the year preceding the issuance of the decision.

Must have in credit and loan advertising

The Consumer Credit Act applies to both credit and loans. It obliges the creditor or the lender to provide information on the cost of credit in an advertisement in a clear, understandable and visible. It is mandatory to provide information on:

  1. the interest rate on the loan including information indicating whether the rate is fixed, variable or both rates apply;
  2. total amount of credit;
  3. the annual rate as a percentage of fees (APR).

In addition, where applicable, the consumer must be informed about: the duration of the contract, the total amount to be paid by the consumer and the amount of separate installments, the price of the good or service and the amount of any advances – including case of a credit agreement providing for deferred payment.

Transparency of information

The information on the total cost of credit / loan should be provided to the consumer as a representative example in a manner at least as visible, readable and audible as the data on the cost of consumer credit.

Due to the large volume of mandatory information, it may be difficult to include it, for example, in audiovisual or radio advertising. It should be easier in the case of graphic advertising, for example in the press or on billboards, but even in such a case some problems may arise. Even if they are technically feasible, their visibility or readability can be problematic, and, in the case of radio advertisements, there can be a problem of intelligibility and assimilation of the information by the consumer when the text is read by a speaker very quickly. Assessing whether the collective interests of consumers have been violated is a case-by-case assessment and often involves going through ‘shades of gray’.

Unlike regulations on, for example, the labeling and packaging of tobacco products, Polish regulations do not indicate a minimum threshold of space (or time – in the case of radio advertising) to be occupied by information on the actual cost of credits / loans in relation to the total advertising space in order to meet objectively to the “information” requirement. Most often, information on the actual costs of financial products is placed at the bottom or to the side of the chart, in small print. The assessment of whether the collective interests of consumers have not been violated and whether the information has been provided in an unambiguous, understandable and visible manner is each time subject to review. individual assessment.

If the information provided to consumers in advertisements does not comply with the law, the entity offering the loan or credit may be accused of violating the collective interests of consumers or of engaging in unfair market practices. As a result, it will take pay a fine and, in some cases, to reimburse consumers for unduly charged interest.


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