It is no real secret that the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) does not like payday loans. Along with some other parts of the government, they have worked on stopping banks from sending/receiving funds from payday lenders and now it appears they are going to look at the lead companies that supply payday lenders with new customers. If your company sells payday leads in any way, guess what? This means you.
Whether you agree or disagree with the CFPB’s feelings towards payday lenders is beside the point I would like to make. If you are one of the lead companies that deal in any financial vertical, you will be on the CFPB’s radar. I would not be shocked to see this spread beyond just the financial realm so all lead companies should take notice. I have written about this before but I think it is very important so I am going to write about it here again.
If your company sells consumer data, you have two and a half strikes against you in the eyes of the government. In my opinion, you must –
1. Lead Companies: Do what you say and say what you do.
How many people are you selling the consumer’s information to and does the consumer know? Are you opting them into something they are not aware of? If they start getting emailed from you constantly, do they know how to stop it? Do they know they are not filling out a form on the actual service provider’s website but rather on a marketing company’s website? Are you hiding what you are going to do with their information in a long terms and conditions page or are you stating clearly what will happen next?
I hope it goes without saying that you should not be doing anything illegal but beyond that I am stressing that you must tell the consumer exactly who you are, what you are doing, and what is going to happen to their information. The consumer should be informed prior to hitting that submit button. Just because the other guy is doing it really is not an excuse. Rise above the quick buck artists and keep yourself out of trouble.
2. Lead Companies: Prove that you are providing something of value to the consumer.
If you are providing nothing of value to the consumer and the only benefit of their information is money in your pocket……I think you will have a problem. Maybe not today, this week, or even this year but long term, I do not believe this will be tolerated. There are a lot of ways lead companies can help consumers. Are you getting feedback from your leads on your lead buyers? If not, I would start with that. Even if it means losing a little money, start kicking out those lead buyers that get bad reviews. Payday is a unique vertical in that the consumer is redirected to the lender’s website instead of a traditional thank you page. For other verticals though, consider altering your thank you page to display the lead buyers who will be contacting the lead. I would even go a step further and pull in the Yelp reviews for each of those buyers so the lead can make an informed decision when the lead buyers start calling.
Protect the consumer’s information as much as you can. Try to force wholesale buyers to use ping post. Ping post protects the consumer’s contact information and only sends their full information to the buyers that will most likely accept the lead. If you are in a vertical that does not support ping post, start pushing for it. While it complicates the setups a tiny bit, it really does help protect the consumer and you have the tools to do it. This is an easy way to help the consumer and every vertical will be ping post at some point.