List Providers Just as Liable for Deceptive Marketing

Note to list brokers, list managers, and list owners: Get to know the business you are providing names to, because you can be held responsible for any laws your client may violate.

During a Tuesday breakfast seminar sponsored by Santa Barbara, CA-based list services firm Avrick Direct prior to the opening of DMDays New York, New York-based attorney Andrew Lustigman said that if a direct marketer’s piece is deemed fraudulent or deceiving or violates any privacy laws, state attorneys general will seek action with the list provider as well as the marketer.

Lustigman described the act of illegitimate marketing as a “dandelion effect,” with the campaign as the flower and the list provider as the roots. The attorneys general need to eliminate these campaigns by killing the roots, Lustigman said, which is why list firms are being targeted as well.

So how can a list provider be sure its client’s direct marketing piece is on the up-and-up? The first thing is to get to know the client and its business offerings. Simple research as to what the direct marketer offers and if there have been any claims against it in the past is the place to start.

Then the list provider needs to review of any prospective client’s marketing program, or “kick the tires”–find out the marketer’s fulfillment plan, read the marketer’s privacy policies, and read any direct pieces before they are distributed.

In addition to inspecting the marketing pieces, Lustigman recommended that list providers get a legal opinion letter from an outside lawyer regarding the pieces as an additional measure.

Should list providers take – and document – those steps, they will most likely be cleared of any wrong-doing, especially if the marketer does a bait-and-switch, showing the list provider one piece but using the names to send something different.

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