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OFT issues guidance on misleading trading names

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01/06/2012
OFT issues guidance on misleading trading names

The OFT has issued guidance on misleading or otherwise undesirable trading names to businesses offering credit services or products.

Among other practices, the guidance is designed to stop businesses from misleading consumers about their commercial status by using names such as ‘Helpline’ or ‘Debtline’, or any name that implies a business is a charity or public service such as ‘Citizens Advice Bureau’ or ‘Government’.

The OFT says that as a general principle of fair business practice, names used by a commercial enterprise should never seek to mislead consumers looking for free, impartial, charitable or public sector assistance.

Where a business insists on using a name considered by the OFT to be misleading or otherwise undesirable, appropriate action to prevent the name from being used is likely to be taken.

David Fisher, director of consumer credit at the OFT, said: “Businesses are free to choose trading names as long as they are not misleading or otherwise undesirable. For example, where they do not make clear the nature of a business or where it pretends to be something it is not. The name of a business can be important to consumers when choosing a supplier and they should not be misled in this regard.”

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