DSSRC Recommends Primerica Discontinue or Modify Certain Business Opportunity Claims
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McLean, VA – January 20, 2021 – The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC) of BBB National Programs inquired about certain business opportunity claims made by Primerica, Inc., a financial services company. In response to DSSRC’s request for substantiation of the challenged claims, which primarily appeared on social media, Primerica removed or significantly modified the claims in question, took proactive steps to address all concerns raised, and acted in good faith throughout the inquiry process.
The inquiry, which focused on core express and implied earnings and lifestyle benefits arising from participation in Primerica’s business opportunity, were brought to DSSRC by a non-profit, non-governmental advocacy group (NGO).
The claims that were the subject of the inquiry included, but were not limited to:
- “…Trying to describe the feeling of the freedom and the lifestyle and everything we’re able to do for our families, it’s like there’s almost no words to explain it. I mean, waking up every morning and really being able to live life in a way where you have no financial stress, no financial worries, I believe that that’s the greatest blessing that somebody could have in their lives.”
- “…When I got involved with the opportunity, I saw how we help families. Within, it was like six months, I was able to leave teaching. People thought I was crazy, they’re like, Kerrie, you have a master’s degree, what are you doing? And I’m like I’m working less hours and making more money…”
- “…I remember thinking, man, how do people do it? How do people take these vacations? …they had money. They had time. They had freedom. And I remember thinking, how am I ever going to get that freedom? And then we[e] were introduced to Primerica. And I learned that this business opportunity would provide me that freedom.”
- “…You don’t become a firefighter to become a millionaire, and you don’t do it for the money. You do it because you love to do it and you love to help people. But I also want to continue a legacy for my children. And as a parent, you want more for your children than what you had. And the part-time opportunity with Primerica has enabled me to provide things for my kids and wife that a firefighting paycheck wouldn’t allow me to do.”
- “All of a sudden, the part-time income starting matching what I was making on my full-time job. I knew the income earning potential at Primerica”
- “The truth is we’re going through some major scary times right now. We are in a situation, this coronavirus has taken over the lived of so many people, it has damaged the financial futures of so many people…100%, you have a real shot, a real chance, to change your life forever. Ok, and I’ve lived through it and I’ve already proven that it’s possible, it’s doable for anyone.”
The NGO alleged that Primerica and its individual distributors have made atypical and unsubstantiated income claims to market Primerica business opportunities, such as social media posts referencing “financial freedom” and going on luxury vacations, as well as some social media posts in which Primerica salesforce members disseminated earnings claims which referenced the current economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NGO acknowledged that some posts contained disclosures, but that most written disclosures that did appear were insufficient. The NGO has made attempts in the past to contact Primerica about its concerns and shared those exchanges with DSSRC. Primerica indicated that it had already initiated a number of voluntary changes to its advertising based on that exchange.
Primerica responded to DSSRC’s inquiry outlining its policies that expressly prohibit any earnings or lifestyle claims that are untruthful or misleading and the company’s proactive efforts to regularly review, update, and enhance its compliance procedures.
In addition, Primerica shared with DSSRC its current consideration of new corporate disclosures to “more explicitly state that representatives are independent contractors who bear all their own business expenses and that average cash flow numbers cannot account for individual expenses that any representative may incur in connection with Primerica business” Primerica also asked each representative responsible for the claims in question to remove the identified claims from social media and counseled those representatives on the appropriate corporate policies for such claims.
Throughout the inquiry process, Primerica cooperated in good faith with DSSRC. Because of the nature of the products and services that Primerica provides to consumers, they are unlike traditional direct selling companies and are subject to extensive compliance and regulatory oversight applicable to insurance companies, securities broker-dealers, and other financial services firms. Notwithstanding this additional regulatory oversight, Primerica was responsive and diligent in addressing the issues raised in this inquiry, addressed each issue that was raised, reconciled the claims in question, and agreed to continue its ongoing efforts to enhance its compliance policies and procedures.
DSSRC recognized and appreciated Primerica’s active participation and cooperation in this process to evaluate and address all concerns raised in the inquiry.
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About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council: The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC), a division of BBB National Programs, provides independent, impartial monitoring, dispute resolution, and enforcement of false product claims and income representations made by direct selling companies and their salesforce members across digital platforms. The DSSRC seeks to establish high standards of integrity and business ethics for all direct selling companies in the marketplace.
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