By Associate Attorney Danielle Nodar
Marketing your business has extended beyond websites and social media, with many businesses choosing to reach their customers directly via text messages. While this form of marketing is a great way to communicate promotions, offers, or new products to your customers, businesses must adhere to text message privacy laws or risk incurring hefty penalties. For example, a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) can result in a fine of $500 to $1,500 per violation, which can add up quickly if multiple messages are being sent to multiple consumers.
Electronic communications, including phone calls, e-mails, and text messages, are regulated in the United States under two federal privacy laws: The TCPA and the CAN-SPAM Act. The TCPA is the primary telemarketing law in the US and prohibits calls and text messages to cell phones unless the consumer has provided express written consent. Express written consent must be related to receiving promotional text messages--not just being contacted by the company. For example, having a customer provide their phone number to set up an account or as part of a transaction does not constitute consent to receiving future promotional messages.
Another law businesses must comply with when engaging in text message marketing is the CAN-SPAM Act. This is the primary text messaging spam prevention law in the US. Just like TCPA, a business needs a customer’s consent before sending commercial text messages. The commercial text messages must clearly disclose that it is an advertisement and provide an easy, clear way to opt-out of receiving future messages. When a consumer opts-out of a text message campaign, the business must honor the request within 10 days. CAN-SPAM Act does not apply to existing relationships or transactions, such as order or delivery confirmation texts. However, if the main content of a message is commercial, the CAN-SPAM Act will apply, even the message also includes other transactional information.
In order to comply with these two laws, businesses must ensure that they have a compliant procedure for obtaining written consent from a consumer prior to them receiving promotional text messages. Some options include keyword texting, where a customer will text a keyword from their phone to join, an online form or website pop up that allows a visitor to opt into the program, or a paper form. Businesses should also keep records of a customer’s consent, including when they consented and if they opted out.
If you are thinking of using text message marketing for your business, please call Jesson & Rains to learn more about how to properly start a texting campaign and best practices for protecting your business!
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