Enacted in 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA, regulates telephone solicitations. Initially, TCPA only applied to telemarketing calls but has now expanded to mobile phones, specifically business and marketing texts.
Here are some simple details to help you better understand the TCPA and how it affects texting.
Under the TCPA law, you must get prior express written consent before calling, sending a text message, or delivering a voice message to a customer’s mobile phone. This prior consent is called the opt-in process. Don’t text people unless they give you permission to do so. If you text them without consent, you’re illegally texting and are likely to have your messages blocked and receive fines.
Prior consent requires that your customer take an affirmative step, such as checking a box or replying with a typed response. When inviting contacts to opt in, make sure the language is clear and conspicuous. 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 customer 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 by your customer 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 approach is helpful if you do not have clear evidence of the initial opt-in, such as with keyword campaigns.
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 text lists. From time to time, include opt-out instructions at the end of your text message, 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.
If you do violate the TCPA and someone you contacted decides to take legal action, they can seek to recover any money that was lost in relation to the violation(s) or $500 in damages per violation, whichever is greater. Depending on the severity of the violation(s), the court could also rule that up to three times that amount be awarded.
It clearly pays to stay compliant and respect your contacts’ privacy.
*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.