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ASIC hones in rural finance

ASIC hones in rural finance

(16 April 2012 – Australia) The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is honing its focus in on finance advertising in rural areas to weed out unscrupulous operators. The watchdog wants to monitor advertisements for credit in rural regions, specifically mining boom towns, and for investment products including managed investment schemes and margin loans, and share-based products including derivatives and contracts for difference.

Home loans, bank accounts and term deposits, superannuation and insurance will also be monitored.

Tender documents show that ASIC has a specific focus on advertisements in West Australian and Queensland mining areas including Kalgoorlie and Mount Isa.

In addition to mining areas, ASIC is also increasing surveillance of the Gold Coast, where the federal and Queensland police are running a joint investigation into a series of share scams run out of call centres.

The watchdog is seeking a media monitoring outfit able to provide investigators with access to a searchable, regularly updated database of print, radio and TV ads from around the country, the tender documents show.

An ASIC spokesman said advertising had a ''significant role'' in determining consumer choices and the watchdog had a ''strong focus on ensuring advertising is not misleading and encouraging good practice in advertising''.

Speaking at an Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia lunch, ASIC commissioner Peter Kell said that irrespective of whether it's a region that has a larger proportion of retirees, a mining town, or a remote indigenous community, financial products and advice should be marketed in a responsible and accurate fashion.

''We know from past experience that sometimes these communities are targeted by unscrupulous promoters", Mr Kell said.
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