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Most people have had both positive and negative experiences with companies in the marketplace. Often the negative experiences boil down to questionable business practices. Consumers have protections against unfair or abusive acts or practices in the marketing of products & services. There are many laws and regulations defining acceptable and unacceptable marketing practices, some of which are industry-specific.
Two prominent non-industry-specific groups which seek to establish guidelines for ethical business practices and inform consumers about their rights are the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB):
The DMA is the leading global trade association of businesses and nonprofit organizations using and supporting multichannel direct marketing tools and techniques. The DMA advocates industry standards for responsible marketing – both online and offline to promote relevance as the key to reaching consumers with desirable offers. The DMA maintains standards for marketers in the collection, use, and maintenance of marketing data. The DMA publishes guidelines for responsible marketing practices, including obtaining consent; marketing to children; special offers & claims; sweepstakes, digital marketing, telephone marketing, mobile marketing and fundraising. Organizations that belong to the Direct Marketing Associate commit to following its standards and guidelines.
Nationwide the BBB works to ensure that high standards for trust are set and maintained for customers. They provide a neutral or unbiased source to guide consumers and businesses on matters of trust. The BBB provides educational information and advice that is free of charge and easily accessible. BBB Accreditation is an honor – and not every company is eligible. Businesses that meet its standards are invited to join BBB. Businesses meeting BBB standards are presented to local Boards of Directors (or designees) for review and acceptance as a BBB Accredited Business. Look for the BBB seal on web sites that you interact with online.