The probate research firm featured in the BBC One series Heir Hunters has been forced to change its website after the ad watchdog found it had made exaggerated claims about its expertise and size.
The BBC One show regularly features Fraser & Fraser as it attempts to track down missing heirs and beneficiaries to unclaimed estates.
But on its website the company claimed to be both “a firm of leading international probate researchers” and “one of the world’s largest firms of professional genealogists and international probate researchers”.
Rival business Finders International Probate Genealogists challenged whether the claims were misleading – even though to most people they were not exactly specific – sparking an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority.
In its defence, Fraser & Fraser said there were many ways of interpreting ‘leading’ and said it did not claim to be ‘the’ leading but ‘one of’ or ‘a’ leading firm.
It provided information relating to the number and locations of its offices, the credentials it held in terms of quality and security, as well as on what it understood were a number of ‘firsts’ in the industry, which it believed demonstrated they had led the way in the field of probate research.
It also provided figures relating to what it understood to be its position compared to other companies in terms of turnover and/or assets, as well as information on the number of members of staff it employed compared to other firms plus information about the global market for probate research.
However, the ASA remained unconvinced, saying Fraser & Fraser had not provided any comparative evidence of the experience of its staff or the size of its business.
Banning the ad from appearing again, the ASA warned Fraser & Fraser not to make such claims in the future unless they held adequate evidence to substantiate them.
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