NEW YORK, April 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommends that the J.G. Wentworth Company modify its advertising to disclose clearly and conspicuously that its offer of "cash now," in exchange for purchase of the customer's structured settlement and any related annuity payment rights, is not immediate, but requires a court approval process that takes, on average, seven weeks to complete. Further, NAD recommended that where there is an implied message that a customer's receipt of the lump sum is immediate, the advertiser should modify its advertising to clearly and conspicuously disclose material information about the timing of receipt of cash.
The claims at issue, which appeared in television and internet advertising, were challenged as part of NAD's routine monitoring program, and included:
"I have a structured settlement and I need cash now. Call J.G. Wentworth."
"I have an annuity but I need cash now. Call J.G. Wentworth."
"Do you get regular payments from an insurance company, for example, from a personal injury settlement or a car accident? .... In exchange for some or all of your future payments, we give you a lump sum of cash now."
J.G. Wentworth has been in the business of purchasing structured settlement payment rights since 1995. Structured settlements are often used in the settlement of a personal injury lawsuit. Rather than a lump sum payment at the conclusion of a lawsuit, the payment is usually made on a regular basis over a period of years. Consumers with a qualifying structured settlement can enter into a contract with J.G. Wentworth, which then hires an attorney in the state where the customer resides and prepares a petition to file with the local court to approve the transfer of the customer's structured settlement and any related annuity payment rights.
This process takes approximately seven weeks. Once the court approves the petition, the consumer will usually receive their payment within two business days. J.G. Wentworth often gives customers a cash advance ahead of any court approval. J.G. Wentworth also purchases private annuity payments that do not require court approval but have other restrictions.
NAD determined that, in the context of the challenged advertising, one message reasonably conveyed by the advertiser's "cash now" claims with respect to a structured settlement and any related annuity payment is that receipt of cash is immediate. NAD noted that consumers are not clearly informed that they receive the lump sum of cash only after a court approval process. Therefore, NAD recommended that J.G. Wentworth's advertising disclose the information that consumers need to evaluate the offer of "cash now" in the context of their existing structured settlement and related annuity payment plans, specifically that "cash now" is not immediate but requires a process that takes, on average, seven weeks to complete. In addition, where the implied message is conveyed that receipt of the lump sum is immediate, the advertiser should modify its advertising to clearly and conspicuously disclose material information about the delay in receiving cash.
NAD noted that nothing in its decision prevents the advertiser from making visual references to their services, provided that disclosures communicating its limitations are sufficiently easy to notice, read and understand (i.e., appearing when the triggering claim is made).
In its advertiser statement, J.G. Wentworth stated that it "agrees to comply with NAD's recommendations. As 25 years of experience without a single complaint on payment timing attests, customers understand what J.G. Wentworth's iconic tag line means when it refers to 'cash now.' Nevertheless, J.G. Wentworth is pleased to participate in the self-regulatory process and will take NAD's recommendations into account in its future advertising."
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.