The FTC has started a crusade against lead generation practices that can affect both consumer privacy and data security. It is now more important than ever to focus on transparency when it comes to how consumer data is collected and transferred between the lead generator, lead buyers, and any other industry players who get involved.

Lead generation prompts consumers to willingly provide personal information in exchange for everything, from information to free products. So what is the FTC’s beef?

Why Is the FTC Concerned About Lead Generation?

The concern is that most consumers do not realize how many hands their personal info will pass through (or be sold to) once they click that “submit” button. You’re not always just trading a name and email address for a white paper. Sometimes your name and email address ends up on dozens of mailing lists—all because you requested that one free product or download.

So here is where the discrepancy lies. Some lead generation services clearly tell the consumer what is going to happen with information (who it will be shared with, and so on). Others conveniently forget to tell the consumer that the lead generation list is sold, not only to the highest bidder, but perhaps to several companies. To the FTC, that’s bad form, especially if attractive offers that are too good to be true are used to coax info out of a person.

After that, it then becomes all about how the company handles the data. Some of the shadier lead generators are also the worst at protecting the personal information they collect.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, a few bad apples make things a little tough on the rest of us. Now we all have to think about transparency. Retargeting, response time, and other factors are coming into play in this regard. Consumers start to take note if they request an insurance quote—and then get retargeted hourly for weeks on end. On the other hand, a student who makes an inquiry about an educational opportunity expects to hear back almost immediately after submitting a request.

Be sure when your company collect leads that each person clearly knows what will be done with his or her personal information, and collect only what you need, and then keep the information safe.