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Internet Compliance is an essential part of protecting your brand across the web. Businesses invest time and money developing brands and marketing to reach their consumers digitally and build trust with their customers. Unfortunately, the Internet creates opportunities for anyone to abuse and exploit companies, misrepresent brands and take advantage of consumers.  You may not even realize your business has been targeted. Today IntegriShield works with over 40 tribal brands. We want to share with you a case study and the top issues facing brands on the web today. 

A 2020 Case Study

False affiliations and online ad fraud are still the leading violations impacting IntegriShield’s online lenders. From January 1-December 31, 2020, 76% of our findings were unauthorized use of our client’s brands on the internet. This is down 8% year over year. There were 1,757 URLs found to be pages using legitimate online lending brand names that were owned and operated by individuals not affiliated or authorized to collect consumer information on behalf of those brands. Besides the decline in the number of sites committing this fraud, the number of repeat violators was also down. In 2019, 32.4% of the violations were done by repeat offenders. Those site owners who already had their violations taken down but put them back up again after the fact. In 2020, the number of repeat offenders was down to 14%. 

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Upon discovery, IntegriShield’s remediation team quickly identifies the site owner and sends a series of notices to take down the page content. As of December 31, 2020, 47% of the unauthorized use violations have been remediated nationally and internationally. This is down from 87% in 2019. A key challenge with this type of fraud is the number of overseas domain owners who will not comply. As part of the process, IntegriShield will work with hosting providers to identify those sites who are committing fraud and, in about half the cases, the hosting provider will take the sites down. We also recommend companies investigate international trademarks as a means of protecting their brands from international bad actors. 

Another major challenge in 2020 was the ability to contact site owners. Remediation rates were down year over year for all types of violations due to the pandemic and site owners lack of response. Remediation will continue into 2021 for all violations identified in 2020. As site owners come back online, remediation will begin to catch up to normal levels.

 

While bad actors will continue to infringe on brands, those companies taking a proactive approach will start to see a decline in the number of unauthorized sites over time, and with it, a decline in the risk of being a target. Being proactive about compliance doesn’t have to be costly or time consuming. Whether you outsource or run it internally, having a written process is the first step. 

A compliance monitoring process typically begins with scheduling a monthly review of your brand presence on the web. It is very important once violations of your brand are found, to have templated communication to quickly send to site owners requesting your brand be removed or the information about it be fixed. Companies should try to work with legitimate sites as much as possible to keep traffic and brand awareness out there. For those fraudulent sites, it is best to ask for removal. Keep a log of the websites and actions in case you ever need documentation in the future. It also helps to keep screenshots because the web is always changing.

Compliance, legal, and marketing professionals will always have challenges and risk associated with running a business. Reduce your risk and take control of your brand by regularly monitoring and remediating. Internet fraud has become a top issue over the last few years, but it can be managed. IntegriShield can help.