In a recent routine monitoring case, NAD examined online advertising for Quicken Loans.  The ads, designed to "encourage...consumers to refinance their mortgage and learn more about its low refinancing rates,” states “NO REGISTRATION, NO LOGIN.” NAD was concerned that such a claim effectively communicated that Quicken would not collect or share personal information from users.

According to NAD’s Decision, however, visitors to the Quicken Loan website would have to provide significant personal information in order to obtain information about Quicken’s home mortgage and refinancing rates.  (Presumably, though, such users would not have to actually register or log in on the site.)  Moreover, Quicken’s Privacy Policy, a link to which is included on the QuickenLoans home page, states that the company collects and shares information it collects. So, presumably, Quicken could collect and share the information that users provide to obtain rate information, even without their registering or logging in on the site.  

Do consumers interpret “no registration, no login” to mean “no information required”? NAD apparently thought they could.  But Quicken chose not to defend its advertising at NAD; instead, it did not submit any response, earning itself a referral to “the appropriate government agency.”  How that agency will respond remains to be seen.

As always, advertisers must consider not just the literal truthfulness of their statements, but what claims could also reasonably be communicated by their statements, even if not explicitly made.  Now, in a period when consumer data is gold, and regulators are expressing concern about a lack of transparency in data collection, marketers may need to be particularly mindful about any claims, express or implied, that create an impression that they are not collecting data when they are.

NAD/CARU Case Reports, Report #6436 (May 2021)

(Description of graphic for visually-impaired readers: a computer keyboard with the words BIG DATA superimposed on it.)