SunTrust Banks (STI) is refusing to participate in a self-regulatory organization's inquiry into its online advertising practices, prompting the group to refer the Atlanta bank to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Before its inquiry was stymied, the organization which is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus wanted to look into the use of data collected from visitors to SunTrust's website.
The self-regulatory group's monitors had observed "what appeared to be third parties known to be engaged in collecting consumers' web browsing activity in order to serve them interest-based ads," the group said in a news release. It questioned whether SunTrust was providing consumers real-time notification of the data collection, as well as an opt-out mechanism.
A SunTrust spokesman responded in an email: "Our website practices comply with all laws and regulations, and we find this organization's challenge to be unfounded."
The self-regulatory body is called the Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program. The group, which gets policy guidance from the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, seeks to persuade companies to comply with a set of self-regulatory principles for online advertising.
The organization said in Thursday's news release that it has concluded 32 formal inquiries, and gotten 100% compliance with its recommendations, since it was launched in 2011. It said that SunTrust is the first company it has referred to regulators.