Companies that collect postal addresses from customers need to cleanse them for many reasons. Address validation improves mailing accuracy, prevents fraud, and facilitates automation. But what’s more critical is that postal address cleaning is required for regulatory compliance. When your records are messy, the risk of missing something and violating regulations is very high.
That’s why to abide by the law, companies adopt address data cleansing practices. They standardize new addresses, remove duplicates, and validate the information to minimize the share of inaccurate records.
In our article, we will explain what address database cleansing is and how it affects data compliance. Keep reading to learn the rules.
What Is Address Database Cleansing?
Address database cleansing involves parsing, standardization, and validation of postal address data to make sure it is correct. A company or organization matches existing addresses with official databases for verification. It also removes duplicates, ensures the proper formatting, and takes other steps to eliminate inaccurate data.
Address cleanup is usually a part of more comprehensive data management practices established by a business. It enables the company to have its database in order and connect multiple types of data for omnichannel marketing, data analytics, and compliance. Address cleansing is also used for its direct purpose. Companies validate records to optimize offline order and mail delivery.
Find out more about address database cleansing approaches below.
How Can Your Company Clean Postal Addresses?
A lot of address cleansing work is done automatically. Businesses adopt automated data validation solutions like Inkit Verify to check addresses and eliminate faulty ones in real-time. Such software automates many verification processes that you would otherwise need to run manually.
Without automated data verification tools, you will have to:
- Check and correct existing address records. If you already have a database of obsolete data, you should validate the collected addresses. To quickly do this, you can create batches and upload them to address verification tools to check the accuracy. It’s also important to highlight possible errors in spelling, missing spaces, incomplete words, repeated terms and fix them. The existing database needs to be reverified at least every 90 days.
- Verify new addresses. When the existing database is ordered, you must ensure input addresses have the proper format. Hence, you should set address formatting rules for customers and match each new address with official USPS databases. You can also use address autocomplete cleansing services that show address suggestions to users as they type addresses.
- Delete duplicate records. When you merge several data sources, some records may repeat. Duplicates result in undesired data accumulation and clutter your storage. Therefore, removing duplicate records is an critical stage of any address database cleansing.
- Use data enhancement and enrichment. Not all companies enrich their postal addresses even though it’s easy and effective. Postal address enhancement allows you to add missing pieces of information to address records for improved data quality. For example, you can add a ZIP code or street number. Advanced data enrichment integrations even enable you to learn an email from a physical address.
Read about Data Enrichment with Address Information
- Complete formatting. For proper address cleanup, you need to adapt data formatting to a specific country or postal system. If you use USPS services for mailing, it’s better to follow their standards. In case you serve customers in, let’s say, France, you should comply with their local standards.
As you can see, address cleanup requires a multifaceted approach. It’s not a one-shot activity you can do and forget. Address database cleansing must become a routine process to help you achieve data compliance and protect personal information from data breaches. Only then, your company will be able to reach data compliance standards.
Five Data Compliance Standards Address Database Cleansing Helps to Meet
Data compliance signifies all the standards and regulations that ensure sensitive data is protected from misuse, loss, or theft. They cover all kinds of personal information, including name, surname, credit card details, contact information, and street addresses, of course. Therefore, the accuracy and security of address records are no less important than other data.
Here we collected the most significant standards you can meet more easily with address database cleansing.
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)
Upon its coming into force in May 2018, GDPR made many companies review their data processing and cleansing practices. It’s a regulation that establishes stricter data protection and privacy practices in the EU and EEA. Citizens get more control over their data. They can ask you to report what information about them you store, update or delete it. To be able to fulfill such requests any time you must run regular address cleanup and validate other collected data. Otherwise, you risk facing severe fines that can reach millions.
Who must comply
GDPR applies to any company that operates within the European Union or the European Economic Area and collects customer data. It also applies to businesses outside of the EU that provide services or goods to EU customers or businesses.
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)
The US Congress passed this act in 1996 to manage how organizations handle patients’ medical and healthcare information. Postal addresses belong to data types that are considered sensitive. By verifying addresses, you can increase the accuracy of databases and better control sensitive data collection, processing, and transmission.
Who must comply
Healthcare providers (e.g., doctors, hospitals), health plans (e.g., insurance companies), healthcare clearinghouses, and their business associates that also process protected health information (PHI).
SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act)
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act is aimed to protect shareholders, employees, and the public against corporate accounting scandals and fraud. It demands transparent accounting and accurate corporate disclosures. Since addresses are often included in financial documents, it must be valid address data.
Who must comply
Publicly traded companies residing in the US need to meet the compliance requirements of SOX.
PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard provides guidelines to companies that process, store, or send credit card information. For credit card verification, consumers enter their billing address details. That’s why most companies processing credit card sensitive data will need cleansed addresses.
Who must comply
Data compliance with the PCI-DSS standard is required from organizations that store, process, or transmit credit card data.
CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act)
California Consumer Privacy Act is in a way similar to GDPR. It enables California consumers to know how your business utilizes their personal data. They can opt out of personal information sales or request to delete it. Hence, to fulfill consumers’ data-related requests, you should run periodic address cleanups and check other data.
Who must comply
California Consumer Privacy Act regulates all businesses serving California residents that have over $25 million in revenue per year.
Inkit Verify for Automated Address Cleanup and Data Compliance
Verify is an address cleanup and autocomplete tool provided within Inkit’s reach enablement platform. It’s an API you can integrate with your website, application, or web solution to automate address database cleansing. Verify automatically matches existing and new addresses with USPS databases to fix any discrepancies. It also offers suggestions and autocompletes addresses as users type them.
Want to learn more about Verify address cleanup or test it? Contact us with any questions.