By Shahnaz Mahmud.
With greater scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), self-regulation in the lead generation space has become a critical issue. In the autumn of 2016, the FTC published an important white paper examining the lead generation space and the potential benefit to consumers. The white paper was based on a workshop, “Follow the Lead: A FTC Workshop on Lead Generation,” that the FTC held the previous year. Growing concerns of the open marketplace and the need for more regulation warranted such a seminar.
This year’s LeadsCon Las Vegas 2017 will have an important session on this topic: “Buyer’s Summit: The State of Regulatory Compliance in 2017: What Buyers Need to Know”. The session will address the current legal and regulatory environment with an eye toward what will ensue this year. Lead buyers from several different verticals will offer their thoughts on best practices.
According to the FTC, strides have been made to minimize “deceptive or inappropriate marketing practices.” More lead generators are proactively seeking to identify and reject the bad actors.
The federal agency highlighted the self-regulatory efforts of the Better Business Bureau’s Electronic Retail Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) and the Online Lenders Alliance (OLA). Both organizations have contributed to the reduction of deceptive claims while implementing strong self-regulatory policies that make noncompliant members accountable for their actions. These members have also been referred to the FTC for investigation.
But lead generators were deemed aggressive or, in several instances, deceptive in the manner in which they have encouraged consumers to fill out web forms. The FTC has brought law enforcement actions against those industry players and has made clear this will be the result going forward. Verticals that have been outlined in this regard include postsecondary, mortgage loan and credit card debt relief assistance.
“The FTC cautioned that lead buyers should be vigilant and monitor claims to consumers, unscrupulous lead generators and lead sources, particularly where sensitive information is concerned,” according to a FTC news release.
The FTC’s greatest concern remains the handling by lead generators of sensitive consumer information. In response to these expressed concerns, some lead generators have banned the sale of certain personal or financial information other than specific purposes.
The federal agency noted:
Practices such as lead aggregators inadequate monitoring of companies that buy their leads to make sure the information is used appropriately puts the consumer at risk and enables misuse.
Selling remnant leads to non-lenders is unlawful, which the FTC has suggested in two recent enforcement actions against lead generators.
The FTC has recommended that publishers and aggregators should only select compliant lead buyers and monitor them for misuse. “Ignoring warning signs that third parties are violating the law and pleading ignorance will not shield companies from FTC actions.”
Those interested in participating in the Buyer’s Summit must qualify to attend. Click here for more information.