FCRA Regulations and Social Media Marketing: What You Need to Know
Social media is a great tool for sharing information through various virtual networks. This information is accessible to different people and organizations. Companies use social media to get data about their consumers. This information is used in marketing the company’s services to them.
Various laws offer guidance on using social media to collect data from consumers. One of those laws is the FCRA. FCRA governs the method of collecting information by credit reporting agencies. Credit report agencies are not limited to credit bureaus only. There are companies that also run background checks and screening.
Thus, it is important for companies not to get involved in FCRA disputes. This can be guaranteed by companies checking the accuracy of the information collected.
Our article addresses all you need to know about using social media in compliance with the FCRA.
What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) About?
FCRA as a federal law applies only to those residents in the United States. It is a law that’s a must follow by all credit reporting agencies in the United States.
FCRA ensures consumers’ personal information is accessed and used for legitimate purposes. It is popularly believed that FCRA protects only credit reports. However, it also protects background check information and driving records.
FCRA Disputes and Protection Under the Act
A regulation under the FCRA is not limited to credit reporting agencies. Other screening and background check companies are also mandated to follow the guidelines of FCRA. This is because the FCRA protects all those whose credit record information will be used.
Companies check consumers’ credit reports for different reasons such as marketing purposes. Employers may check them too for the accuracy of the applicant’s or employee’s information.
FCRA protects these individuals so that their credit reports will be checked and ensure their information is stored accurately.
Nonetheless, if you experience issues with your credit score, or it has one or several errors, you should dispute the information. You do this mainly for the health of your credit.
With this, it’s important to fully understand your rights, and the means to file a dispute. Most importantly, you need to know when to file credit report disputes.
Often, the perfect time to take measures and File an FCRA dispute is immediately when you notice a credit problem. Usually, if you keep a track record of your credit report and observe the health of your credit score, you won’t miss noticing any inaccurate items.
Such negative items may include duplicate debts or charges that can negatively impact your financial options. So, as soon as you notice these issues, consider filing the credit report disputes immediately. That way, you ensure that your credit score doesn’t go down.
Besides, take note that when credit reports of consumers are obtained without their consent or in contravention of the FCRA it leads to FCRA disputes. It is therefore essential for consumers not to settle for a credit report with incorrect information. Every consumer is protected under the FCRA to file a dispute where there are errors on their credit report.
Social Media Compliance with the FCRA
There are various social media compliances that companies must adhere to. They include the following:
Privacy and Data Protection
It has been established that social media is a great tool for companies to market their services. Thus, it’s important that the consumer data is protected in the process.
Company marketers must ensure they have their limit to contacting consumers. They must also specify how they collect and store data of consumers. Besides, consumers must know about the collection and storage of their credit reports. This is to ensure the accuracy of such information in compliance with FCRA.
The best way to ensure compliance is for companies to do the following:
Companies using social media marketing should not send unsolicited messages to consumers.
Consumers must be notified when their data is collected and stored.
Company marketers must ensure that consumers’ data is secure and used for legal purposes only.
Where companies do not follow all of these to ensure the data privacy of consumers, the FCRA empowers consumers to file a FCRA dispute.
Have a Dynamic Policy as a Company
The world is constantly changing and as such policies must change too. Social media is not static. The policies you made a few months back may be irrelevant to trends on social media today.
Therefore, it is important to update the information collected about consumers on social media. This is because overtime, the information may become outdated, and if such information is used, it might lead to FCRA disputes.
Understand the Role of Social Media in Your Company Process
Collecting consumer information in a company is a process. You must ensure you know how social media would help in such a process. Check to determine whether it is a good strategy for your company in such a process.
You can do this by liaising with the company’s internal compliance team. The internal compliance team will determine if social media is a good strategy for obtaining consumer’s information. This is done by checking the services offered by the company and if such services need some particular information about consumers, which can be found through social media. .
Do Not Rely Solely on Social Media for Data Collection
Social media information is not 100% accurate. When you use such information solely for consumer records, you might violate the FCRA.
The FCRA ensures consumer information is not only used appropriately but is also accurate. Thus, companies must be diligent enough not to base their opinion of consumers on social media records alone.
Not being diligent enough can lead to consumers filing FCRA disputes against the company for incorrect information or outdated information used by the company.
Company marketers must ensure confidentiality in consumers’ credit records. There are various confidentiality requirements per industry.
Marketers must understand their industry’s confidentiality requirements. For example, the healthcare industry needs to follow the Health insurance portability and accountability Act to protect individual’s health information . This is why companies must review their social media policy.
Ensuring Marketing Rules
To build a social media presence that is risk-free, companies must be aware of marketing rules. Whatever marketing strategy you use on social media must be compliant with marketing rules.
Certain laws ensure companies follow marketing rules. An example of a regulatory body with marketing rules is The Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
FDA monitors claims related to food and similar products that contravenes the rules. For example, they are strict on marketing products that do not give solutions to health problems.
How to Ensure Compliance With the FCRA
You can ensure compliance of social media marketing with FCRA requirements by observing the following:
Have an Internal Compliance Expert in the Company
If your company uses social media for marketing purposes, it is important to have an in-house expert to ensure compliance. They should regulate what the company can do on social media.
The internal compliance expert must be up to date with compliance requirements. They must also work together with social media marketers to reduce risks.
Limit Access to Social Media Accounts
Not all persons in the company must have access to the company’s social media platforms. There should be designated team members that handle the company’s social media accounts.
You must also regulate access to the social media account within the team. You can set certain rules to limit access. For example, compulsory approval of social media posts by the internal compliance expert. Limiting access ensures there are no unnecessary social media risks.
Consider Periodic Monitoring of the Social Media Accounts
You must monitor your accounts as often as possible. This is to ensure there are no comments or posts that create probable risks. Where they are comments that pose a risk, you can report them to the necessary regulatory bodies.
Prioritize Training and Teachings
All workers in the company must understand the need to be social media compliant. There should be regular training in the company for such purposes. Ensure every staff is well-updated about different social media developments.
This is where the internal compliance expert is needed. The compliance team should ensure everyone in the company is well-sensitized. They can do this by sharing updates on social media marketing with the employees. This should be done regularly on par with developments on social media. If the employees are well informed, they can easily flag any post that poses a risk to the company.
Create social media marketing policies
These policies must guide social media activities and the team members. It must include relevant rules that ensure the social media account is secure.
There should also be other policies like privacy policies. This will sensitize consumers on how their data is stored and used by the company. Policy to guide followers and fans must also be put in place. This ensures that followers are also compliant with their interactions on your social accounts.
social media influencers for the company must also be sensitized. Influencer’s contracts must include compliance policies.
Gathering information and data on consumers is very important for companies. It is used to ensure a better way to go about social media marketing and reaching the target audience.
Companies must ensure that in a bid to use social media as a marketing tool, they remain compliant with the FCRA. This will limit any form of disputes that may arise in the future.
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