Is Your Website Regulatory Compliant?
An up-to-date website can help your credit union to better serve your members and to increase business opportunities. Keeping your website current includes being aware of compliance obligations when using your website to advertise to members and potential members.
Compliance questions often arise during a credit union site redesign, especially if the site was developed over three years ago. Over time, additions to pages, changes in wording and new regulations can cause a site to be outdated, and even worse, in violation of compliance laws.
We recommend reviewing your site at least yearly, to bring all copy and disclosures up to date. While there are a few compliance rules regarding websites specifically, for the most part, website compliance is achieved by following the same laws and regulations you also follow in your branches.
Although this is by no means a complete list, here are some of the most common compliance violations (and the easiest to fix) that we’ve encountered in credit union website design.
Credit Union Website Compliance Checklist
Links and Website Copy
- Does your site include links to third parties? Do the links imply endorsement of third-party products or services? Have you reviewed the security and privacy policies of the third parties?
- Do all of your calculators and links work properly?
- Has all of your website copy been through an advertising review process before being posted?
Logos and Photos
- Are you using copyrighted or trademarked materials? Make sure you have written approval to use or link to these materials.
- Is the NCUA advertising statement—or its short version, accompanied by the NCUA logo—on every page that advertises deposit account products? (§740.5 of NCUA Rules and Regulations)
- Is the Equal Housing logo on all pages that advertise real estate-related loans?
- Are there pictures or drawings of human images? Look at the entire site for the possibility of encouraging some types of applications and discouraging others on any prohibited basis (§701.31 of NCUA Rules and Regulations and §202.5 of Regulation B)
Disclosures and Notices
- Is your privacy notice posted prominently on your site? Is it the board-approved notice/policy?
- Make sure your site is advertising terms that will actually be available, especially when rates are increasing or decreasing.
- If your site includes a section for children, any page of your website that collects information from children under age 13 must be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
- Review any pages offering loan products to ensure compliance with Regulation Z requirements. Check for the use of trigger terms that will require additional disclosures (e.g., any reference to a loan term on a closed-end loan triggers the requirement to include the terms of repayment). Also, make sure all related disclosures are conspicuous, either by including them on the same screen, or providing a clearly marked link to them (§226.16 and §226.24 of Regulation Z).
- Review any pages that promote deposit accounts to ensure compliance with Truth-in-Savings requirements. Check for trigger terms, as well as use of the word “free.” Additionally, the word “profit” must not be used in referring to dividends or interest paid on an account. (§707.8 of NCUA Rules and Regulations)
- Are non-deposit investment products advertised? If so, make sure the disclosures required by NCUA Letter to Credit Unions No. 150 are followed.
- Are all other disclosures presented in a clear and conspicuous manner?
Credit union advertising has never been more viable, giving you the ability to reach members (and future members) on your website 24/7. Remember, though, credit union websites can also be viewed by regulators, attorneys, banking groups and any other interested party just as easily.
We hope that these tips will help your credit union to market your products and services confidently, while helping to manage your compliance risk. Please keep in mind that we provide this list as an overview of regulations; it's important that your credit union staff and compliance counsel have thorough knowledge of these issues and review materials before posting to your website.