Is bulk texting legal? It is a topic many of our customers ask us when signing up for our service. The reality is that laws govern some aspects of mass messaging, and a lot of gray areas as well. There is also the question over enforcement and the spammers being held responsible for violating the law. In this post, when it comes to mass text, we ‘re going to look at what you should, can’t and shouldn’t do.
Because we spend a considerable amount of our time on smartphones, it’s a sensible choice to take advantage of a mass texting service to help with communications needs in a new business. So long so you reach out to people with the information they want and give them your permission, a mass text service can be a very powerful communication tool to send updates, notifications and warnings. Is bulk texting legal? Let ‘s look at the regulations.
Telephone Consumer Security Act of 1991 (or TCPA for short)
Bulk texting is 100% legal, however, there are certain rules that needed to be followed in order to remain compliant. The U.S. government has a long history of regulating, protecting consumer privacy with respect to telemarketing and robocalls, and that also extends to texting. The most important piece of legislation which narrowed the scope of acceptable telemarketing practices came with the 1991 TCPA, which amended the 1934 original Communications Act and is often referenced when someone asks, “is bulk texting legal?”
As of 1991, businesses wishing to employ mass texting or calling have to heed the following limitations unless the recipients had given prior consent:
- Calling before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. (recipient’s local time) is prohibited.
- Anyone registered in the National Do Not Call Registry cannot be a recipient of an organization’s mass calls or texts, unless they explicitly opt-in to receive bulks texts from your company.
- Unsolicited faxes for the purposes of marketing are prohibited in any case.
- Robocalls to emergency services, hospitals, doctor’s offices, healthcare facilities are prohibited.
- Any calls made to lines for which the recipient is charged for the call are prohibited.
- No artificial voices or recorded calls can be made to residences without the recipient giving prior consent (opting-in). (This portion gets more specific with the amendment that came in 2013, discussed below)
- Business conducting mass calls or texting must identify themselves, or identify who they are calling for.
- Companies must provide a callback number or reply option.
- A company or organization advertising via mass calls or texts must maintain a Do Not Call (DNC) list of recipients who do not wish to be called or texted. Opt-out requests must be honored for at least five years.
- No solicitations can be made that take up two or more lines of a multiple-line business at a time.
- Violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act give the recipient of any unwanted call or text the right to sue for up to $1,500 per unsolicited text or call.
The concern with the 1991 law was that the definition of prior consent was quite loosely interpretable. Consent was considered to be given if a customer or prospective customer willingly gave their phone number to the company. Or, if permission was implied, this was often considered a green light for telemarketing calls and texts rather than explicit.
There were over 5,000 TCPA related lawsuits in the United States in 2017
infographic provided by IDology – https://www.idology.com/blog/tcpa-compliance-and-mobile-numbers-what-you-need-to-know/
It’s critical that any entity engaged in sending commercial SMS text messages adheres to TCPA rules. A violation of TCPA rules can cost a marketer up to $1,500 per incident or per SMS.
Best Practices for TCPA Compliance
Txtra has had implemented many features into our texting platform to help ensure our customers’ use it ethically and in compliance of all U.S. based regulations. Additionally, we provide plenty of content to help educate our users as well. Compliance is one of the many reasons why text marketing continues to be the most effective form of marketing possible.
Some of the features we’ve incorporated into Txtra to help ensure compliance are:
- Simplified Opt-Outs
- Automated Disclosure
- Identity Verification
- Extra Protection
You can read our SMS & Text Messaging Compliance Policy here for more information.
We only offer messages that people want and or need to receive, to make it crystal clear. For more info please see our Responsible Use Policy. Keep in mind the following tips and you’ll be well on the way to building a happy, loyal customer base:
- Always identify yourself or your company in your text message
- Pay careful attention to the time you send you text and the time of the intended recipient
- Do not send messages to contacts who have opted out, and do not ignore contacts who ask to opt out
- DO NOT send messages to phone numbers that have not been given to your organization directly (do not purchase a list, do not blanket an area code)
- Do not, under any circumstance, use a “shared short code” or any business that supports them.
Is bulk texting legal wrap-up
Don’t go it alone while planning a business text marketing campaign. Choosing a trustworthy company to assist you will give you the knowledge you need to completely protect your brand, while at the same time getting the word out about your product and service. Before sending your next text blast, re-read this article and ask yourself “is bulk texting legal”? Yes, it is so now just make sure that your bulk texting is legal.