Reputable data suppliers & Consumer data restrictions explained

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Following a recent news report highlighting some of the worst of the data industry – we want to stand up for some of the best.

At first glance the data industry can appear very complex and often confusing. However, contrary to the referenced news report, the number of companies flaunting or skirting the Data Protection Laws is actually a minority.

At Data HQ we know as well as anyone that there are companies in our industry who are less than trustworthy and who will gather and sell on any list of contact details and personal information – no matter how it was gathered or how old the information may be. Confidentiality concerns may also be disregarded by such businesses.

With both Consumer (B2C) and Business (B2B) data, it is vital to ensure that you work with only reputable, accredited data suppliers.

Things to look for in a data supplier

  • Do they provide testimonials and case studies? Are the testimonials named or just anonymous?
  • Where is the data sourced from, how is it collated and how is the data kept clean and up-to-date? Are you confident these issues are all as you would wish and compliant with the law?
  • Do they provide specific answers to your questions? (Avoid vagueness).
  • Can they drill into and segment the data they are supplying?
  • Do they enquire into your business, services, products and objectives, so that they can match the most targeted and relevant data to the campaign at hand?
  • Do they ask about the channels needed for the campaign?
  • Is the data accurate, targeted and relevant to your needs?
  • Are they a member of the DMA or have any additional accreditations?
  • Can they add value to the campaign in other ways than merely supplying you with data? Do they provide more in-depth insights, analysis and database services?
  • Does the price they are offering seem too good to be true? – then it probably is!

Consumer data restrictions

You should also be aware that consumer data has additional stipulations and restrictions around its use:

  • Consumer data must be ‘opt-in’ – so the individual has to have provided their details and agreed to receive future communications. (Compared with Business data which is ‘opt-out’ – data can be gathered and used unless the individual or business asks to be removed).
  • There is information that cannot legally be sold on, e.g. specific details regarding pension data or private medical information. However, details on income level, Council tax bands and even information such as if you suffer from back problems or if you are a smoker are all legally available, so long as the information was provided in a survey or similar and the individual had not excluded themselves from contact by third parties.
  • If a consumer asks you for the source of their data, you are obliged to be in a position to let them know – there should be a clear audit trail back to where they provided the information. Commonly, this is provided only to the consumer making the enquiry, to comply with the Data Protection Act.
  • If a consumer asks to be removed from a list, the removal must be implemented within 21 days.
  • Consumer data must legally be checked against the TPS (Telephone Preference Service) to ensure anyone who has registered against receiving sales or ‘cold calls’ does not receive them. However, this does not apply to calls made for market research purposes.
  • Consumers can also get themselves added to the MPS (Mail Preference Service). Although it is not a legal obligation to check data against MPS, it is advisable for businesses using consumer data to do so, to avoid mailing to unresponsive prospects.

In Summary

The supply of both Business and Consumer data is in itself entirely legal. The industry is represented on both sides (Customer and Supplier) by a variety of companies, including some of the most respected companies in the UK as well as Government Agencies.

Companies that do not act legitimately often misrepresent the Data and Direct Mail industry. They may operate outside of Data Protection laws or best practice, or at the very least blur some of the guidelines. However, there are many more such as ourselves, who do operate appropriately and we, our colleagues and many of our competitors, should not be judged by the actions of the few.

  • What do you look for in a data supplier?
  • Have you ever had a bad experience with cheap consumer data?
  • Do you still have questions on the legalities around Consumer data? If so, call us and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.