How consumer protection laws affect advertising

By Maryann TobinAugust 11, 2014

Consumer protection might not be a topic getting extensive attention these days, but it is something the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) take seriously, especially when it comes to online advertising and lead generation. For that reason, performance marketers and lead gen professionals should take the issue seriously as well.

While the FTC has been a long-standing component of consumer protection laws, the CFPB is relatively new. It was created in 2011, in response to questionable business practices in the banking industry and the role they played in contributing to the financial meltdown of 2008.

The CFPB is a powerful agency that has successfully prosecuted complaints on behalf of consumers who claim that businesses have treated them improperly through deceptive advertising or other unethical practices.

Federal Trade Commission

The FTC’s Online Advertising and Marketing Rules of the Road sets standards meant to protect businesses and consumers from unscrupulous practices. Equally importantly, these laws are intended to “help maintain the credibility of the Internet as an advertising medium.”

Credibility is the key word here and is something successful companies should strive for in order to grow the trust of the public and, in turn, their customer base.

“Under the law, claims in advertisements must be truthful, cannot be deceptive or unfair and must be evidence-based…” according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

During the past three years, the CFPB has successfully collected nearly $4.6 billion in fines from businesses found to be engaging in illegal and unethical practices. Violations involving more than 15 million consumers include unfair billing, deception, discrimination, illegal fees and kickbacks, among others.

Although many of CFPB’s rules focus on mortgage lending, the fundamentals of consumer protection laws extend to all advertising practices, including those associated with Web-based lead generation.

The Plain Writing Act is a good example of one of the latest laws adopted by the CFPB. It requires simple language on “consumer-facing content” for print publications, online brochures, blog posts, social media and other web content materials.

At LeadsCon NY Aug. 14-15, a panel of industry experts, moderated by Jonathan Pompan of Venable LLP, will be addressing this crucial topic in “Staying Current with Consumer Protection: Practical Lessons from Recent Enforcement Actions.”

During this session, current investigations involving lead generation, telemarketing and other types of advertising will be covered, along with best practices to maximize customer reach within the range of consumer protection laws.

Considering the heavy fines associated with violating consumer protection laws, it is imperative for businesses to have the tools and information they need to avoid these costly mistakes.

This article is brought to you by LeadsCon New York.

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