This month, APSCU released Guidance for APSCU Members: The Misrepresentation Rule and 3rd Party Vendors. This document offers a plain language description of the program integrity regulation for Title IV institutions. In addition to the explanation of the regulations, APSCU advises its members on an internal compliance initiative, records retention policies, contract clauses, due diligence and legal advice to name a few. I have selected the portion of the guidance document to specifically identify how Gragg Advertising handles Compliance concerns for our clients.
Establish and Internal Compliance Policy:
Gragg Compliance is employed by schools to handle all 3rd party compliance issues regarding online advertising. IntegriShield is the system put in place to monitor and track vendor pages that reference the school and their lead generation methods. We track and flag all instances of misrepresentation, enticement, incorrect information, IPEDs data, disclosure links, etc. All non compliant landing pages, banners, ads, information pages and any other placement of online advertising are monitored for compliance with the FTC, Department of Education and federal regulations. All of these pages are tracked, documented and saved in our database for reference as well as all of our communication with these vendors and affiliates for reference. All of this is located in ALPINE for client reference. Additionally, this is reported to the client on a weekly basis with a high level analysis.
The purpose of tracking and storing violations of 3rd parties is to give our clients the information necessary to choose the proper 3rd party vendors and vet out the vendors that practice non compliant methods of advertising and lead generation. Gragg practices full disclosure so that all of our clients are aware of the bad actors in your industry. ALPINE allows our clients to look at violations by vendor to help make determinations about furthering or eliminating business relationships. It has been our experience that most vendors are quick to comply, while some have no intent. Those who choose not to comply should be shut off immediately and documented to show due diligence in the event of a complaint by use of the school name. Gragg will work with your outside counsel to sue these web page owners and file complaints with Google to have their pages removed. As you may be aware, this can be a lengthy process, but all documentation can always be provided to show action on a particular issue.
Content Pre-Approval Requirement in Contracts with 3rd Parties:
Gragg contracts with vendors on a client’s behalf as an aggregator. We always indemnify our clients and take full responsibility for the leads we purchase on your behalf. We also have an insurance policy to cover any wrong doing on our part. We are moving in direction to require pre-approval, but as many people in the industry know, often vendors are purchasing leads from affiliates and not always do we know where these leads originate, which is why we have developed the IntegriShield system. IntergriShield tracks all leads sources in an attempt to find the origination of leads and hold vendors responsible for their affiliate/vendor relationships.
Contracting with 3rd Parties:
Gragg contracts with all 3rd parties as an aggregator. Our contracts include indemnification, warranties of use, and employs specific standard of conduct requirements. If you have specific questions about the integrity of our contracts, please do not hesitate to contact us and we can answer any questions you might have.
All of our vendor communication is stored and accessible to our clients at all times. Screen shots, URLs and emails are all stored in our system for your benefit and retrieval when and if you need it. There is not a current time limit on our data storage. We hold everything and discard nothing at this time. While the FTC has a 5 year statute of limitation, we do not have a current policy to purge information at any time in the future.
Customer Service and Complaints:
As part of our IntegriShield product, negative user comments on social media or user generated sites are flagged and brought to the attention of our clients. Every negative comment we discover is sent in a weekly report to the client. Gragg also has an Internet Content Management Department if you would like to have the responses outsourced.
Obtain Legal Advice:
Gragg in no way intends to represent your company in a legal manner or give legal advice regarding your school. We partner with you to create a compliance policy with your school so that due diligence is met on a day to day basis. We will work with your school’s attorney to make sure you are doing everything you can to practice business within the law and according to industry standards.
Jennifer Flood, JD
This post is guest written by our Compliance Manager, Jennifer Flood.