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What are Fraud Leads and what types of them can be distinguished?

TrafficWatchdog team

14.05.2019 r.

click, spamming, fraud leads

Fraud Leads

source: own elaboration

Lead is the contact details of people interested in its offer obtained by or for the advertiser. Ideally, a customer wishing to make a purchase completes the form or otherwise submits his data to the company so that it can contact him. However, the large needs of advertisers related to obtaining contact data have made CPL (Cost Per Lead) one of the most popular models used in affiliation. It consists in rewarding publishers for obtaining correct contact details of people who have given their consent and are interested in the advertiser's offer. Unfortunately, in practice, it is not so easy, and many publishers cheat their partners by giving them so-called fraud leads.

What exactly is a fraud lead?

Fraud Lead contains false data and is therefore useless for the advertiser, and sometimes even generating additional costs for him. Contact forms delivered to the advertiser may be incorrect due to many factors, so you can distinguish several types of false leads:

  • improperly filled contact forms - contact forms that have been mistakenly filled with incorrect data are also considered fraudulent, although they are not a typical fraud. They are a consequence of error, not deliberate action. The most common errors that make an advertiser unable to contact a prospect, contain an incorrect domain in an email address, confuse digits of a phone number or typo in other data.
  • leads containing false data - some of the publishers fill in the contact forms with untrue data, hoping that the remuneration will be paid to them. Such scams are unfortunately quite common, the publisher can personally fill in forms with bad data or do it in an automated manner using appropriate programs or BOTs. In the case of this type of frauds, nonexistent leads are delivered to the advertiser and may generate unnecessary costs for their servicing.
  • leads containing real data, but given to advertisers without the consent of the data subject - this type of fraud is the most dangerous because it involves the illegal sharing of someone else's personal data. In the light of the RODO, the General Data Protection Regulation, every person completing the contact form should actively express his / her consent. If such consent has not been given, the transfer of the data is a fraud and may be a cause of many problems for the advertiser. Protection against this type of frauds should be very important for any company that contacts people whose data has been obtained by leads. Potential customers, whose data has been provided to advertisers by this kind of fraud, are not only not interested in the offer, but may not even be aware that their data has been provided to the advertiser.
  • old leads, called cold leads - even if the leads contain valid data and have been transmitted in accordance with the will of the data subjects concerned, they may still be a form of fraud. This is the case, for example, if a lot of time has elapsed since the collection of the data until the transfer to advertiser. Some publishers collect large amounts of contact information from customers interested in certain products and services, and then make them available to several companies offering these products or services. However, they do not do it at the same time - they transmit data to one advertiser, and then to the next and the next. In a market in which many entrepreneurs operate, the time of reaching the customer is crucial for the sale - that is why it is so important. Sometimes the same set of data is shared even with the same advertiser after the period in which the lead could be considered a duplicate. Older leads are often called cold and can be legally sold if advertisers are aware of the date they were obtained. However, if the rate has been set for fresh leads (transmitted on a regular basis) and the publisher still delivers cold leads, then fraud occurs.

Consequences of lead fraud

Among the many negative effects that fraud leads can bring to advertisers the most serious are:

  • artificial costs - this category of fraud effects includes both the remuneration for a counterfeit publisher and the costs of handling bad leads - such as maintaining a call center, sending e-mails and text messages to clients, handling calls by the operator, etc.
  • lost time - time spent on verifying an invalid lead is also a form of cost. During this time, the company can serve customers who are really interested in buying.
  • loss of reputation - leading frauds can affect the company's image badly. If the company too often verifies inappropriate contact details, it may receive a patch of "harassing customers", which will certainly affect the frequency of receiving phone calls and the mood of potential customers.
  • legal consequences - if personal data are unlawful used in leads, the enterprise must face legal consequences, audits by state institutions, etc. It generates all other unpleasant consequences such as high financial costs (including hiring law firms), a waste of time and loss of a good company image.

Protection against fraud leads

You can protect yourself from fraud in many ways. One of them is the careful selection of partners. You should always make sure that the partner with whom you want to act is honest. However, it should be remembered that the affiliate network does not control all of its publishers or all of leads obtained by them, and therefore may not be aware of the existence of a fraud.

Another method is to precisely define the conditions that the lead must meet to be correct - both on the contact form and cooperation offer included in the partner programs. However, this action will be useless if the leads won't be verified correctly. Even if the final payment for an incorrect lead won't be paid, verification of the data itself may involve costs and other negative consequences. Therefore, it is better to use the services of experts who can identify a false lead before it is used - for example by identifying the fraud publisher and blocking it.

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