BBB National Programs Insights
The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council
In 2019, the Direct Selling Association (DSA) and BBB National Programs, Inc. announced the creation of a new, third-party, self-regulatory organization called the Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC). This organization is funded by DSA but is autonomously administered by BBB National Programs. DSSRC was established to monitor product and earnings claims disseminated in direct selling marketing in the United States.
The formation of this new program came after a tumultuous decade in the direct selling industry which featured several high-profile cases brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against direct selling companies. In the last year, three cases were announced by the FTC against Advocare, Neora, and Success by Health. It appears that the direct selling industry remains squarely in the crosshairs of the regulators.
By way of background, DSA and its member companies are no strangers to self-regulatory initiatives. In 1970, DSA enacted its own Code of Ethics to address the prevailing issues facing its members and the DSA Code Administrator has done an exemplary job reconciling internal disputes among DSA members. Notwithstanding the valuable service provided by the DSA Code Administrator, DSA made the decision to expand its self-regulatory portfolio to address the dissemination of unsupported income and product claims in direct selling marketing not only within DSA membership but those being disseminated throughout the entire direct selling industry. To that end, DSA turned to an independent entity with a long-track record of administering third-party, industry specific, self-regulation programs: BBB National Programs.
Over the last fifty years, a number of industries that have been the subject of aggressive government regulation turned to BBB National Programs to help them demonstrate industry’s commitment to effective and meaningful self-regulation. For example, when the traditional advertisers came under fire, the industry created the National Advertising Division (NAD) to evaluate the truth and accuracy of claims communicated in print and broadcast advertising. Three years later, advertisers to children age thirteen and under and formed the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) to regulate the appropriateness of advertising claims targeted to such children. In the wake of the success of these early self-regulation programs, several other industries (the infomercial industry, data privacy, automobile manufacturers, etc.,) turned to BBB National Programs to restore and enhance consumer and regulatory confidence in their advertising messages.
To learn more about the DSSRC: please visit our website at: https://bbbprograms.org/programs/dssrc/dssrc-home.