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Navigating SMS Compliance and Regulations

How to stay compliant with your SMS Messaging in 2024

One of the key components that comes with a successful SMS strategy is ensuring that your messages are compliant with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Below is an informative overview on the importance of understanding different SMS regulations:

TCPA Compliance

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA for short) was a piece of legislation passed in 1991 that regulated several rules related to phone communications. The governance of telephone solicitation, including phone calls, faxes, text messages, and more was at the center of this legislation.

This means that any business that wants to solicit over the phone needs to comply with the TCPA, including the times when these types of communication are allowed, as well as the regulation of a do-not-call list, robocalls, and more.

Inability to comply with the TCPA may be subject to legal action, and violations can lead to significant consequences.

  • Maximum standard TCPA fine: $500 per violation
  • Maximum treble TCPA fine: $1,500 per willful violation
  • Maximum DNC list fine: $43,792 per violation

According to TCPA regulations, consent comes in two different forms: express consent and implied consent.

Express Consent is when a customer explicitly agrees to receive SMS messages from a business through online forms, opt-in pop-ups, or a verbal agreement.

Example: A customer fills out a form on your website to opt into your SMS list to learn more about your products. They can opt-out at any time by replying “STOP” to any of your messages.

Implied Consent is based on an existing relationship, when the customer either gives their phone number to a business, makes a purchase, or has participated in a contest.

Example: A customer enters a contest or fills out a survey conducted by your business and provides their phone number during the process. You then send them a message thanking them for participating and offering them the chance to opt-out by replying “STOP.”

Best Practices

Just because a customer consents to receive your messages doesn’t mean that it’s entirely smooth sailing from there. Once a new subscriber has opted in, you are required to send an introductory message that includes the following information:

  • How your business will communicate with them moving forward
  • The frequency of messaging
  • The disclaimer that data rates may apply
  • Information about how to get help or opt-out

Subscribers must be able to opt-out at any time when replying to a message with the appropriate keyword.

Pro Tip: Encourage subscribers to save your brand’s contact information in their phone so messages will not be considered spam!

SHAFT Regulations

All phone carriers belong to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), so all phone carriers and customers must comply with the rules that the CITA enforces, which inevitably impacts what marketers can promote through SMS.

The CTIA has published a list of words and content categories that cannot be included in SMS marketing campaigns in order to make sure that inappropriate content reaches the wrong audience. The list features the following topics: sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, and tobacco, which is commonly referred to as SHAFT.

If this sort of content is featured in your SMS campaign, it will be considered a violation of regulations and will be blocked and can even cause your business to be banned from sending future campaigns.

However, there are some exceptions to the rule. If your content features products that are federally legal, they are allowed to be marketed through SMS—as long as there is an age-gate in place. This requires the user to enter their date of birth to confirm they are at least 21 years old.

Need help setting your SMS campaigns up for success? Get in touch with the Voxie team today!

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