BBB National Programs Archive

ERSP Reviews Advertising for United States Tax Lien Association, Recommends Marketer Modify or Discontinue Certain Claims

New York, NY – Oct. 3, 2019 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that United States Tax Lien Association (USTLA) modify or discontinue claims made in online and print advertising for its real estate and tax lien certificate investing program.

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by BBB National Programs, Inc. The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP pursuant to an anonymous competitor challenge.

ERSP reviewed claims, such as “Safely secure a consistent predictable monthly cash flow of up to an extra $1,200.00 to $7,800.00 per month, or even more!” and “Make a fortune with Tax Lien Certificates by safely earning 16% to 25% fixed and secured rates of return,”and concluded that when communicated in the context of the advertising, these claims could reasonably create typical earnings expectations for consumers. After evaluating the advertising and evidence submitted, ERSP determined that the marketer did not have a reasonable basis for these express and implied claims. ERSP recommended that any atypical earnings expectations be discontinued in future advertising unless they are accompanied by a disclosure indicating what the typical USTLA student can earn using the strategies referenced in the claims.

In addition to the earnings claims, ERSP reviewed performance claims. ERSP determined the marketer could include language in the advertisement that accurately reflected the years of experience that the spokespeople have in investing tax deeds and tax lien certificates. However, the marketer did not provide evidence to support claims regarding the success of USTLA students taught by the spokespeople. Additionally, ERSP recommended that future advertising claims be modified to accurately reflect if the spokespeople will appear at live seminars. ERSP appreciated USTLA’s participation in the self-regulatory process. The company, in its marketer’s statement, said, [] USTLA appreciates the opportunity to work with the ERSP program to clarify and resolve any perceived advertising issues. USTLA has already discontinued the advertisement at issue and will ensure that any future advertisements take into account ERSP’s recommendations and are in compliance with the applicable laws, regulations, and FTC guidance.”