How Banks, Marketers Aid Scams… and how they prevent it

Today's Wall Street Journal includes a story "How Banks, Marketers Aid Scams" that tells how common business practices may help scammers. Although the story mentions some of the controls in the mailing list business, it fails to mention most of them.

The common public perception of mailing lists is that personal information is being freely traded without any controls. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, you'd be suprised how many controls are in place to prevent inappropriate use of mailing lists. Here are a few:

  1. Mailing lists have well-established opt-out or opt-in policies to give individuals control of their inclusion on a list
  2. Lists are typically "rented" or "exchanged" for 1-time use (versus purchased for unlimited use) – this prevents overuse
  3. List rentals require list owner approval as part of a formal clearance process – this prevents mis-use
  4. Getting approval requires samples of your mail piece or telemarketing script – this prevents inappropriate use of the list
  5. Professional List Brokers and List Managers typically act as intermediaries on transactions and will stop fraud in its tracks to protect their clients and their livelihood. Many maintain black lists of unethical mailers to aid in this process.
  6. List rentals require a formal list rental agreement (LRA) that restricts use of the mailing list to the purpose set forth. This contract prevents misunderstandings and adds formal accountability to the process.
  7. List rentals are "anonymous" – the buyer never takes possession of the list. Instead, a trusted 3rd party service bureau handles the data - this prevents stealing of mailing lists
  8. Lists are seeded to ensure that the use of the mailing list complies with the agreement. Mailboxes are set up to receive the mailings/emails/calls and these are tracked – this prevents mis-use.
  9. Members of the Direct Marketing Association abide by a Privacy Promise and Code of Ethics.

NextMark's technology enables these controls and more that give consumers better protection. At the same time, NextMark enables organizations to reach their market directly with highly relevant communications (by weeding out people who consider their communication "junk mail" or "spam").

Of course, list owners aren't required to use NextMark, join the Direct Marketing Association, or go through the list broker/list manager channel to sell their list. But the ethical list owners, such as The Wall Street Journal itself, and their list managers will follow this protocol to prevent mis-use of their data and to protect consumers.

More attention needs to be paid to unscrupulous list owners and marketers who don't follow the rules.

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