DMA to List Industry: Cover Yourselves

Responding to a recent article in the New York Times that accused list firm/data services provider infoUSA of questionable practices, the Direct Marketing Association issued a reminder to its members to follow DMA guidance regarding the use of marketing data.

“Whether sent by mail, phone, e-mail or any other channel, the marketer is responsible for the messages it sends out,” said Patricia Kachura, DMA senior vice president for ethics and consumer affairs, in a statement. “Any time you partner with another company — whether it is to share lists or to create and disseminate an advertisement — the actions of your partner can reflect on you as well.”

To help companies ensure that their information is being used responsibly by third parties, DMA recommends that anyone who sells or rents marketing lists:

  • Have a written agreement outlining the purpose and scope of the list’s use;
  • Ask for and obtain a copy of the script, e-mail or print promotion and keep it on file; and
  • Monitor or decoy list usage to make sure that the list is used only for its appropriate purpose.

The May 20 Times article titled “Bilking the Elderly, With a Corporate Assist” had accused infoUSA of selling its lists of elderly consumers to telemarketers who used the information to scam senior citizens. For his part, infoUSA CEO Vin Gupta said in a statement: “We regret that the Times has chosen to recycle as ‘news’ this three-year-old, closed inquiry by the Iowa authorities and has done so in such a misleading way.”

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