Is cold texting illegal?

Text messaging is a highly effective way to reach people. But can you simply blast out promotional or informational messages to anyone with a phone number?

The answer is a resounding NO.

Cold texting is illegal. And you could be fined anywhere from $500 to $1000 per violation. 

But what constitutes cold texting and what makes it illegal? And is there a way to legally text leads and customers? 

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about cold texting so you can learn the right way to communicate via SMS to ultimately grow your business. 

What is Cold Texting?

So, what exactly is cold texting? It’s sending unsolicited text messages to people who haven’t explicitly opted-in to receive them, typically for marketing or sales purposes. Although the purpose/contents of the text message doesn’t particularly matter, any cold texting is illegal. 

Cold texting includes texting people from:

  • contact lists you bought
  • phone numbers you found online
  • numbers you got without the person knowing 

Why is Cold Texting Illegal?

It all comes down to privacy and consent. People have the right to control who contacts them, and unsolicited messages are intrusive, disruptive, and categorized as spam. 

In the United States, telemarketing calls, auto-dialed calls, pre-recorded calls, and text messages are regulated by The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Can-Spam Act and The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). These regulations require businesses to get explicit written consent from people before sending them text messages. Breaking these rules can result in hefty fines and legal trouble.

Similar laws exist in other countries too. For instance, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union sets strict rules on how personal data, including phone numbers for texting, can be used.

Legality aside, cold texting is still ethically problematic. It feels invasive and disrespectful to people’s privacy. It also harms the reputation of businesses and organizations that engage in it, leading to distrust.

Are There Any Exceptions? 

There are a few rare situations where cold texting might be allowed:

  • Prior business relationship: If you have a prior business relationship with the recipient, like a previous purchase or service, you may be able to send them marketing messages, but only with clear opt-out options.
  • Emergencies: In some cases, cold texting might be allowed for emergency alerts or public safety messages.

However, these exceptions should be approached with caution. Always consult with a legal expert before cold texting anyone.

How Do You Legally Text Your Audience?

Fortunately, there is an ethical way to reach your target audience. Simply just get opt-in consent and build your text subscriber list

To get opt-ins or prior consent, the recipient must take an affirmative step, such as checking a box or replying with a typed response. When inviting people to opt in, make sure the language is clear. Don’t make it difficult for people to understand what they’re agreeing to.

How to Get Texting Opt-Ins

The opt-in process must be provided to the recipient by some means other than a text message, such as a form on your website (on a banner, pop-up, etc.) or a physical form. Proof of opt-in should be stored for at least five years.

On online forms, consider having a checkbox and using language similar to “Yes, I would like (Your Business Name) to contact me via text messaging.” People must check the box to opt in to receive texts from your business. The box can’t be pre-checked. 

You might also want to use a double opt-in approach. If you do, text subscribers must reply “yes” to fully opt-in. This method is helpful if you do not have clear evidence of the initial opt-in, such as with keyword campaigns.

How to Honor Texting Opt-Outs

If someone asks to stop receiving messages, you must honor all opt-outs immediately. This means you need to remove that former text subscriber from all your text lists. Occasionally, include opt-out instructions at the end of your texts, such as “Reply ‘stop’ to unsubscribe at any time” or something similar.

Make the opt-out instructions clear, reasonable, and easily accessible. Not only does this keep you compliant with the TCPA, it ensures you keep your customers happy.

Build Strong Relationships 

You build trust with your audience by following texting laws and respecting people’s privacy. Focus on getting permission before you text someone. That way, you’ll build real connections with people who actually want to hear from you.

Start Texting With Skipio

Skipio helps you reach your customers without spamming them. With the automated tools Skipio provides, you boost replies, increase meeting show rates, and grow revenue. 

Schedule a demo today to learn how Skipio helps businesses like yours communicate more effectively with leads and customers. 

*Disclaimer: The above information is not legal advice and is for informational purposes only. If you need further assistance on the issue of TCPA compliance, contact a legal professional in your area.