A significant portion of Richard’s cutting-edge practice includes advising those within the online lead generation ecosystem, including affiliates and lead generation networks, aggregators and buyers, about applicable regulatory requirements with respect to representations made to consumers, disclosures, marketing agreements, privacy, data use and security, credentialing and end-user compliance. He works with clients to closely monitor developments, properly weigh compliance risks and formulate innovative compliance strategies.

As the nation’s consumer protection agency, the Federal Trade Commission has broad jurisdiction over lead generators, whether they are generating leads for a lender, an educational institution or a company offering another good or service.  Using this authority, the FTC initiates investigations and law enforcement actions against participants in the lead generation industry.

A lead is someone who has indicated – directly or indirectly – interest in buying a product or service.  Lead generation is the process of identifying and cultivating individual consumers who are potentially interested in purchasing a product or service.

Increased local, state and federal regulatory scrutiny into the online lead generation sector, particular as it pertains to consumer privacy, continues to bring new challenges.  That is where lead generation marketing compliance lawyer Richard B. Newman comes in.

Designing and implementing compliant online lead generation strategies are imperative, especially while engaging in telemarketing campaigns.

Comprehensive Online Lead Generation Counsel

Whether you are a purchaser, aggregator, affiliate network or publisher, or a vendor to such businesses, you need an lawyer that knows the advertising and marketing law principles covered by the FTC Act and that concentrates primarily on related-lead generation marketing compliance issues, including:

  • Unfair, deceptive, abusive and unsubstantiated  representations or omissions made to consumers to generate leads
  • Ensuring the consumers are able to make informed choices
  • Analysis of advertising materials
  • Data collection, transfer and use, including properly disclosing intermediaries and end-recipients
  • Consumer privacy
  • Liability for third-party conduct
  • Credentialing marketing partners
  • Design and implement protocols to discover and reject leads obtained through deceptive marketing practices
  • Best practices for purchasers and sellers of leads
  • Marketing agreements and privacy policies that comply with applicable regulations and guidelines
  • Statutes that regulate specific consumer products and services
  • Compliance with applicable telemarketing laws and regulations, including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule
  • Compliance with applicable anti-SPAM legislation, including the CAN-SPAM Act and California Business & Professions Code § 17529.5
  • Vertical specific regulatory landscape and applicable licensing requirements

Terms advertised to consumers must comply with applicable legal requirements and be based upon products and services actually available to consumers by network participants.  This issue often arises as a result of affiliate networks that fail to expressly restrict publishers from making specific advertising representations when they are unaware of applicable offer terms.

All those in the lead generation stream are responsible for policing each other and are potentially liable, including purchasers, lead aggregators and lead generators.  For example, lead generators and aggregators are potentially liable for the deceptive, unfair and abusive activities of their respective clients.  In addition, purchasers and lead aggregators are potentially liable for false or misleading advertising content used by lead generators.

Recent FTC Guidance on the Lead Generation Ecosystem

The FTC recently released its Perspective on Lead Generation, detailing the mechanics of lead generation, the need to add transparency to the lead generation process and specific consumer protection concerns.  Key takeaways include:

  • Disclose clearly who you are and how you will share consumer information
  • Ensure that consumers who fill out online forms understand their data may be sold ad re-sold multiple time to numerous marketers and intermediary entities, such as aggregators, before being sold to an end-buyer merchant
  • Properly disclose to consumer that aggregators may use an automated, instantaneous, auction-style process – known as a ping tree – to sell the leads to the highest bidder, as opposed to those best suited to offering consumers the products or services they seek
  • Ensure that consumers filling out web forms understand that websites are operated by lead generators so that consumers are not left with the impression that they are submitting information directly to a merchant or other advertiser
  • Ensure that consumers understand that the information they provide in web forms can potentially be verified or supplemented with additional information they did not provide on these forms.
  • Do not deceive consumers into filling out web forms with personal information
  • Take preventative measures to ensure that sensitive consumer information is not used for unauthorized or unlawful purposes, and that purchasers have a legitimate need for the information
  • Avoid selling remnant leads to buyers with no legitimate need for sensitive data
  • In addition to limiting the type of information collected and sold, publishers and aggregators should thoroughly vet potential lead buyers before doing business with them and monitor them for any misuse of consumer data
  • Keep sensitive data secure and provide only the data that prospective buyers legitimately need

Hands-On Lead Generation Marketing Compliance Experience

The process of collecting, preparing and selling consumer leads can be quite complex, and the roles played by different entities in the lead ecosystem can vary and overlap significantly.

Richard’s years of concentrated online lead generation compliance experience provides a distinct benefit to his clients that wish to implement preventative compliance controls and ongoing monitoring in order to fend off unwanted regulatory attention.  His extensive experience includes, without limitation, evaluating advertisements used to generate leads, implementing steps when engaging in telemarketing campaigns, assessing how consumer data is stored, assessing with whom consumer data is shared, and counseling clients regarding the extent to which publishers and lead aggregators are liable for the end user service providers’ legal compliance.

His years of extensive lead generation legal compliance counseling experience on behalf of industry leading purchasers, aggregators and lead generators include, but are not limited to, the following verticals:

  • Auto finance
  • Auto insurance
  • Auto warranty
  • Debt relief
  • Education
  • Home improvement
  • Health insurance
  • Home security
  • Life insurance
  • Mortgage
  • Payday
  • Solar

The sharp regulatory focus upon transparent and legitimate data collection and use, as well as the accurate disclosure of material costs, terms and risks of offers, makes those in the online lead generation marketplace increasingly appealing government enforcement targets.

Ignoring warning signs that third-parties are violating the law and pleading ignorance will not shield companies from regulatory action.

If you are the subject of a local, state or federal regulatory investigation or enforcement action, or if you are interested in implementing preventative measures, contact an attorney that brings deep, in-the-trenches lead generation compliance and counseling knowledge.