Businesses in the mortgage and financial industries that commit social media compliance infractions face a number of issues including legal and regulatory concerns, loss of consumer trust, and deterioration of brand reputation. These businesses simply cannot afford to make mistakes in regard to regulatory compliance. In the ever-changing landscape of the web, avoiding social media compliance mistakes can be difficult; employees may unintentionally break from corporate and regulatory policy, and companies may not have the resources or tools to manage their digital presence effectively. Here, we’ll outline four major digital compliance mistakes that are common in mortgage companies and explain what your organization can do to prevent them.
Insufficient Digital Scope
The first step toward effectively preventing compliance issues is to identify all Points of Presence (POPs) related to a business. Depending on its size, a business may have thousands of different POPs spread across a wide range of websites and social media platforms. This includes platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as well as industry specific networks like Zillow, Redfin, Lender411, and Houzz. Add websites and blogs and you have a more complete scope for your monitored inventory. Businesses need to be able to monitor activity on many different platforms (and websites) in order to ensure brand compliance and identify potential threats.
Not Monitoring All Accounts & POPs
As mentioned above, a given company may have hundreds or even thousands of POPs online that consumers interact with regularly. However, a company may not have control over all of the POPs they are required to monitor. If a POP has your brand(s) stated in the profile or art, then you most likely should be monitoring it. A few examples of POPs outside of corporate oversight may include local or branch social media accounts (created and managed by the branch manager), POPs owned by mortgage loan officers (MLOs) which are regulated, POPs of former MLOs that have not removed affiliation to your company, Facebook auto-generated pages, and fraudulent websites designed to damage brand reputation. Partnerships that associate with your brand may also need monitoring. Failing to monitor and address these POPs and accounts accordingly can cause compliance problems (among other issues) for a business.
Audit Errors & Omissions
When done well, social media audits can help businesses avoid major compliance issues. However, a large percentage of audit processes are not complete. Several common social media audit errors and omissions include:
- Not auditing the existing Inventory of POPs two-three times per year to ensure compliance is upheld
- Not auditing ex-employees, third-party partners, or affiliated businesses for use of your brand.
- Not collecting all POPs from MLOs (as stated above) and not collecting them quickly for new hires
- Not reacting to changes on social media platforms that can alter MLO pages –– particularly in regard to automated pages.
- Not thoroughly tracking the audit process to show the CFPB or state auditors how you keep an audit program fresh.
Ineffective Compliance Training
Companies that invest time and resources training their MLOs can reduce a number of internal compliance issues and increase brand equity at the same time. It’s imperative that employees understand their company's policies and regulatory requirements for their profiles –– the majority of compliance issues should be listed in the profile description areas, images and avatars. Training should also include what words, phrases, or topics to use when posting and commenting to their content stream, as certain words are not compliant. Continue compliance training on a regular basis and make adjustments as needed. Also, make sure to cover every aspect of digital security –– from common risk scenarios to best practices for password settings and safekeeping. Finally, companies should let their team members know their activity on social media is being monitored.
Ensuring social media compliance and brand consistency is essential for businesses in the finance and mortgage industries. At Brandle, we have years of experience helping businesses with compliance monitoring, and brand protection.
For more details about social media compliance errors in mortgage businesses, download the article written by Janet Church for Mortgage Compliance Magazine, June 2019.