Ways to take consumer privacy seriously in the time of COVID

28. September 2020

30-second summary:

  • Jornaya data shows the number of TCPA Visual Playback (VPB) requests skyrocketed in May 2020. These requests occur when a client receives a complaint from a consumer and requests a visual rendering of the consumer’s web session to show what disclosures were presented to the consumer.
  • The increase in online shopping due to COVID-19 coupled with the influx of consumer complaints means marketers using automatic telephone dialing systems should be doubling down on consumer privacy and their ability to prove compliance with the TCPA.
  • In this contributed article, Jornaya’s Chief Marketing Officer Rich Smith discusses what marketers can do to become more TCPA compliant, including:
    • Documenting proof of consent, allowing you to deter and help defend against the costly and rising number of TCPA complaints.
    • Ensuring that proof of consent is stored and available in perpetuity to defend a plaintiff or class action lawsuit.
    • Capturing and providing a verified record of every web session through visual rendering technology and reports.

Consumer Privacy is more important than ever before. In fact, most consumers (87%) will take their business elsewhere if they feel a company isn’t handling their data responsibly.

All it takes is one data breach or data compliance lawsuit for trust in a brand to be tarnished. In a time when consumers are shopping more online, there are a few best practices that your organization can employ today to make privacy a part of your DNA.

Privacy and compliance aren’t new concepts. The FTC began enforcing one of the first consumer privacy laws, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, in the 1970s.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), passed in 1991, has been a necessary consideration for every marketer, especially when it was amended in 2013.

Since then, we’ve seen rapid changes in technology that are raising new privacy challenges at an accelerating pace. This includes the 2020 enforcement of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Several other states are following with new legislation, and a federal law may not be far behind.

Even in the most stable of times, much of the market has trouble keeping up with how best to comply with privacy and compliance regulations.

But, as consumers speak up more and more about privacy, it simply makes good business sense to honor their wishes—or pay a stiff price as they take their business elsewhere or you have to deal with complaints and lawsuits.

Companies can lose tens of millions of dollars in lawsuits by not complying with the regulations.

One of the most well-known TCPA settlements occurred in August 2014, when Capital One (and three collection agencies) agreed to pay more than $75M to end a class action suit on the use of an autodialer to call consumers’ cell phones.

Similarly, failure to comply with the CCPA can result in significant sanctions, with statutory damages between $100 and $750 per record breached.

California courts can, however, increase penalties, depending on the breach. Sanctions can reach $7,500 for intentional violations and $2,500 for unintentional violations.

No organization should pay a penalty that can be avoided.

Current trends

When the TCPA was amended in 2013, our company developed solutions to help companies with compliance. Beyond just helping them be compliant, our solution was tailored to help brands protect their reputations—with their customers and with their markets at large.

The best practices we employ were established during that time and we’ve evolved them since to be applicable past TCPA.

Working with a network of partners who operate more than 35,000 comparison shopping and lead generation sites, we witness over 400 million consumer purchase journeys monthly.

We protect and honor consumer privacy by not receiving or recording any Personally Identifiable Information (PII). With a network of more than 1,000 partners, we’ve seen fluctuations and in some cases, increases, in year-over-year complaints being made by consumers to brands.

We noticed that the amount of time between the lead being generated and the complaint being made is getting longer, increasing more than 50% from June 2019-June 2020.

So you can expect the increased shopping activity from March and April to have an impact in the form of TCPA complaints in August and September. Given these trends, marketers should ensure best practices to prove they are investing in compliance.

What can marketers do?

The best advice is to invest in a third-party solution that ensures compliance by documenting proof of consent. Consider these best practices to protect your organization:

  • Clearly understand how the firms you work with are driving calls to you and where the original consumer data and phone number originate from.
  • Ask if the firms you’re working with are dialing consumers that have filled out an online or mobile lead form.
  • Ensure you can trace call data to the original lead form.
  • Acquire the appropriate permissions to transfer or make outbound calls.
  • Know definitively that the consumer consented to be contacted on the lead form and have persuasive proof that the appropriate consent took place.
  • Document proof of consent, allowing you to deter and help defend against the costly and rising number of TCPA complaints.
  • Ensure that proof of consent is stored and available in perpetuity to defend a plaintiff or class action lawsuit.
  • Capture and provide a verified record of every web session through visual rendering technology and reports.

Modern marketers need to go beyond just complying with regulations and data protection and security measures. They need to truly honor the consumer’s privacy in order to build complete trust in their brand.

With that trust established, the marketer will have more valuable engagements with consumers, and consumers gain value from well-timed, relevant, and trusted interactions with brands.

Everyone wins!

Rich Smith is CMO of Jornaya, bringing more than 25 years of experience leading marketing strategies and teams to the company. In his most recent role as partner and CMO at Chief Outsiders, the nation’s leading provider of fractional chief marketing officers, Smith worked with companies of all sizes to drive profitability and growth. His long track record of success includes CMO roles at Ditech, AIG Bank, and Recovery Centers of America. 

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