Staying on the Right Side of the Law with Text Messaging

July 23, 2016

2:23 pm

Own a business and think you might want to add text messaging to your marketing campaign? Make sure you know the rules before you play the game, or you may land yourself in court.

Retailers from clothing stores to vitamin companies are figuring out that the best way to reach consumers is through their mobile devices. So, they’re putting together text ad campaigns that will land their companies’ names, and their messages, directly in the public’s text message applications.

Whether these companies have read recent reports that stated consumers spent more time on their phones than watching TV in the second quarter of 2015, or they did their own research to show society’s reliance on mobile devices, these businesses want to cash in on behavior that doesn’t seem to be changing.

However, in order to stay free from lawsuits, companies need to approach text advertising in the right way.

Mobile Advertising and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 states that anyone dialing a person’s mobile phone or sending a text message must have consent. This federal law prohibits unsolicited mass calls and text ads, and it gives recipients of those unsolicited calls the right to collect up to $1,500 in statutory damages for each violation (or each phone call or text message). Individuals who receive unsolicited messages to their cell phones do not have to prove any harm was done when they seek damages.

What Does the Law Say?

It’s critical to get consent to send messages to an individual’s cell phone for any text messaging campaign. InfoLawGroup LLC, a boutique law group focusing on data security and media matters, emphasizes that the FCC’s (Federal Communications Commission) Telephone Consumer Protection Act reigns supreme in matters of mobile phone mass advertising, and it specifically spells out what rules must be followed if any company uses what’s considered to be an autodialer (automatic dialing system) to reach out to multiple consumers.

The law is specific, but lengthy, and it’s a must-read if you’re thinking about adding mass text service to your marketing campaign. It describes exactly what the law considers to be an autodialer, and it offers clarity in terms of procedures and penalties involved in sending text messages to multiple individuals at once.

To protect your business, familiarize yourself with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act before you send any text ads as part of your company’s marketing campaign.

Don’t Take a Chance – Get Permission for Text Ads

Imagine the potential damage to a business from one unsolicited text message sent out to thousands of customers or potential customers. A single mass text could ruin a small company financially, and could lead to the owners or executives of the company being slapped with a lawsuit that they’ll need to spend time and PR resources fighting.

If you’re considering a mass texting service for your business, stop and make sure you’re clear on the laws pertaining to text messaging before you press that send button. If you don’t, you might be setting yourself up for a multi-million-dollar settlement to avoid litigation, when you could have simply asked for consent. If you remember one thing when it comes to a mobile marketing campaign, it’s that consent matters.

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Jeremy Pollack is a copywriter at cloud-based voice and text platform CallFire.

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