When do I need permission to text someone? How do I know I really have permission? Are they contacts or subscribers!?
Did you know that you must legally obtain prior express consent to send a marketing or promotional text message to a mobile device?
The latest edition of the CTIA’s Best Practices Guide for SMS Marketing and Communications, released on January 19, 2017, places an additional degree of emphasis on consent and TCPA compliance.
As stated in our terms and conditions, all of our clients have a legal obligation to ensure that their contact lists and messaging content are compliant with all applicable state and federal laws, as well as all requirements established and enforced by the CTIA that regulate SMS/text messages.
What Is TCPA Compliance?
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) went into effect in 1991, and it has since been modified to include SMS/text messaging.
In a nutshell, the TCPA stipulates that businesses and/or organizations must receive express written consent from individuals prior to sending any autodialed SMS/text messages to them.
Obtaining an individual’s phone number—regardless of whether they are a potential lead, an existing client, a former customer, or a member of your group or organization—is not the same as receiving permission to contact them.
There are only a few special exceptions under the TCPA (such as appointment reminders and delivery notifications) that may be subject to exemption. Penalties for TCPA violations are steep, so it’s best to always err on the side of caution and make sure you have express written consent before sending any texts—even if you think yours are transactional. For additional information about compliance guidelines that apply to specific industries and/or audiences, The Data and Marketing Association’s Comprehensive Guide to Compliance is a useful resource.
💡 SimpleTexting Tip: Learn more about the TCPA and more in our step-by-step guide to SMS Compliance .
Why Does This Matter?
The TCPA provides for a private right of action — that is, a right to sue the sender — and statutory damages, and they are often pursued as class action lawsuits. Damages start at $500 and go up to $1,500 for each text message sent. In addition to private citizen lawsuits, the FTC and FCC both have authority to bring actions for violations of the TCPA, as do state attorneys general on behalf of citizens of their states. Learn more about TCPA violations.
If you are unsure as to whether your contact list meets the established criteria for consent outlined by the TCPA and CTIA documents referenced (and linked) above, we advise you to consult with your organization’s compliance team and/or legal counsel.
How to Start Importing
To enable contact import permissions, please complete the following steps:
- Educate yourself on compliance. Our SMS compliance guide is a good starting point.
- Review your contact lists to determine if they meet the compliance requirements
- Edit your contact lists in consultation with your organization’s compliance team and/or legal counsel
- Include the total number of contacts on your list
A member of our team will review your request and make every attempt to respond within one business day.
If your request is approved, you will receive a confirmation message and instructions for uploading your list as a CSV file into our system.
If your request is not approved, an alternative method for building a compliant contact list (such as keyword opt-ins or web form opt-ins) may be recommended, along with instructions and tips to help you succeed.
Disclaimer: Please note that this advice is for informational purposes only and is neither intended as nor should be substituted for consultation with appropriate legal counsel and/or your organization’s regulatory compliance team.