Marketing Channels to Monitor for Compliance
Calls coming in and out of your call centers must comply with regulations, including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), Customer Identification Programs (CIPs), mandated disclosures, and more. While there are some regulations specific to certain verticals, such as debt collection, there are rules that any organization must be aware of to stay compliant.
Recorded Call Disclosure
Under Federal Law, it must be disclosed to consumers that their phone call is being recorded. A recorded call disclosure is simply a statement letting the consumer know that the call will be recorded. Oftentimes for incoming calls, a recorded call disclosure is played before the caller gets on the phone with an agent. For outgoing calls, however, it is the agent’s responsibility to make this disclosure.
The Mini-Miranda disclosure requires debt collectors to advise the consumer that they are calling to collect debt, and that any information given in that call will be used to do so.
Prohibition of Unfair, Abusive or Deceptive Tactics
Contact center agents are prohibited from using any unfair, abusive, or deceptive tactics or language in sales calls, collections calls, customer service calls, and more. This is covered under a broad range of regulations, including the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA), UDAAP, Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA), Regulation Z and TILA.
Customer Identification Programs
Under the USA Patriot Act, the Customer Identification Program provision (CIP) requires that before any financial-related topics are discussed, agents must confirm the caller’s full name, date of birth, SSN, account numbers, email address, and more to confirm that they are who they say they are. In simplest terms, the agent must know who they are speaking with on the phone to fight against fraud.
Under TCPA, any organization using autodialers (such as automatic dialing systems, pre-recorded messages, text messages, and fax machines) must have permission from the consumer to contact them via automated technologies.
Many companies will use third parties for lead generation, and these third parties are required to make TCPA disclosures and confirm that their client is allowed to contact them.
Dodd-Frank requires contact centers to record calls and save them with timestamps. There is also some overlap between Dodd-Frank and unfair, abusive or deceptive tactics.
Business-Specific Guidelines and Scripts
Outside of regulatory requirements set forth by the government, agents should abide by brand guidelines and adhere to the scripts they are provided with. This will ensure that your agents are representing your brand correctly and servicing customers the way they should be.
Email communications are directly from your organization to the consumer, arguably making it even riskier than other channels, such as the web. Whether they’re emails sent to thousands or one-on-one consumer interactions, unmonitored communications can leave you exposed to tremendous risk. Emails must be truthful, non-deceptive and fulfill all regulatory obligations. Failure to do so can lead to costly penalties and damaged reputations.
This also includes third parties operating on your organization’s behalf. Sending messages with deceptive subject lines, not having an unsubscribe link, and not including an address can all put your organization at risk–even if you aren’t directly sending the email. Your organization assumes the risk of what third parties do and say on your behalf. Ensuring full compliance with all regulatory and brand guidelines by partners and third parties is an essential part of sound email marketing compliance.
Messaging, Chat & SMS
Different forms of messaging, such as text messages and chat boxes, are subject to regulation and enforcement by government regulators just as much as any other consumer communication channels. Similar regulations apply to text messaging as they do to call centers, including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Ensuring that your messaging communications are compliant with regulations and are best serving your consumers is essential to an organization’s overall success.
Text Messaging Compliance
SMS/text messaging is an excellent way to communicate with consumers and can be extremely effective. However, you must ensure that you have the correct permissions to contact consumers this way. Similar to phone calls, the FCC prohibits harassing, intrusive, illegal, and unwanted robotexts to cell phones and other mobile devices. All requirements that apply to phone calls under TCPA also apply to text messages.
Under TCPA, organizations are required to obtain prior express written consent from consumers before texting them. It’s important to note that an “established business relationship” is not enough to establish consent. This disclosure must be clear and conspicuous for consumers, and consumers must purposefully opt-in to these messages. Along with this, you must provide an automated, interactive “opt-out” mechanism.
Just as TCPA prohibits autodialed phone calls (robocalls) without consent, it also prohibits the use of autodialed text messages or “robotexting.”
When messaging consumers via chat boxes, whether automated or live, you must ensure that you are compliant with GDPR and all other data privacy laws. Simply put, you must handle consumer’s information legally.
Another important note about chat boxes is that these communications can be captured and saved, therefore posing an increased risk for your organization. If a customer has an unpleasant experience, they can easily capture and keep receipts of their interactions with your brand, which can ultimately lead to damaged reputations or proof of regulatory violations.
When it comes to chats, you want to monitor the quality of agents’ interactions with consumers based on professionalism and adherence to provided scripts. This way you can ensure that consumers are receiving the best customer service and have an overall positive experience.
Social media content must comply with industry-specific regulations, such as those for financial services, as well as regulations specific to consumer protection. Just like any other consumer-facing channels, marketers using social media must understand these regulations and abide by compliance obligations.
The same regulations apply on social media as they would for the web, emails, call centers, and messages, such as UDAAP (Unfair, Deceptive or Abusive Acts and Practices). For financial institutions, this also includes those set forth by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), State AGs and other regulatory bodies.
With the recent rise in popularity of social media, truth in advertising laws play a huge role in social media marketing compliance. Federal law says that ads must be truthful and not misleading, no matter where they appear. The FTC’s Endorsement Guides provide guidance on how to properly disclose material connections between advertisers and endorsers.
Even more recently, the FTC released a new guide, Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers, that outlines the dos and don’ts for those advertising on social media. A few key points:
- Material connections include any financial, employment, personal or family relationships with the brand—any and all of these must be disclosed
- Use clear and unambiguous language with proper hashtags (#sponsored, #ad)
- Make disclosures hard to miss, i.e. “above the fold”
There are a few best practices that can help any organization remain compliant on social media while remaining authentic, creative, and spontaneous. Understanding regulatory guidelines, holding regular internal compliance training, and proactively monitoring social media posts and mentions are just a few things you can do to help with this.
Pre-Production Documents and Physical Collateral
Marketing compliance shouldn’t just be reactive. The best way to prevent any compliance mishaps is with proactive review and approval of pre-production documents (think blogs, direct mailers, one-sheets) from compliance and legal teams before it’s published and sent out to consumers.
Just because something is a physical print doesn’t make it exempt from regulatory scrutiny. In fact, in October of 2020, the CFPB settled with nine separate mortgage lenders for deceptive advertising on direct mailers.
A best practice is to ensure that your marketing and compliance/legal teams have a standard process for getting approvals to get content out the door quickly. Your organization may opt for an automated compliance solution for quick review and approvals.