Like email, commercial text message communications are subject to laws and regulations. In the United States, these regulations are governed by the Federal Communications Commission, the Telecommunications Industry Association, and Mobile Marketing Association. SMS laws are in place to protect consumers from spam, scams, and harassment. Mobile marketing is a powerful tool for your business, but your business must stay compliant with all text message laws or risk facing hefty fines.
While the below laws are by no means exhaustive (and do not take the place of your own research or advice from your lawyer), these basic SMS laws give a good look into text messaging guidelines and regulations.
Law: Get Consent - your business must obtain written consent from consumers before sending any SMS communications.
How Not To Break It: The easiest way to avoid breaking this law is to ask customers to text in to your text word to sign up, and include verbiage in your welcome message, confirming their opt-in to receive communications from your business. If you ask customers or clients to opt-in to text message communications on intake forms, ensure that you have their signature on each form before importing their phone number into your database.
Law: Transparency - text messages must clearly state the sender’s identity.
How Not to Break It: Start your text messages with your business name. IE, “vorText: Thanks for signing up! You will now receive alerts when we run special promotions.” This also helps identify your business if several companies use the same text company as have the same shortcode.
Law: Ensure Opt-outs- text messages must include clear instructions for opting out of your list. When a subscriber opts out, this must remove them permanently from your text list and they must not receive any further communications.
How Not to Break It: Include very clear instructions on your text messages on how the customer can stop receiving SMS communications. For example Respond STOP to opt-out. vorText automatically adds this to all outgoing message blasts.
Law: Abide by Sending Hours - Text messages must only be sent between the hours of 8am-9pm.
How Not to Break It: Schedule your text messages during legal sending hours. Not only is this the legal thing to do, but it avoids inconveniencing your customers, as many people may be asleep or engaged in other activities in the early morning or late evening hours.
Consequences for noncompliance with United States SMS Laws
The consequences of breaking SMS laws can be extremely damaging to businesses. For example, fines can range from $500 to $1500 per text message for sending unsolicited communications, and medical offices face even heftier fines if a HIPAA violation is found.
Text message marketing is a fantastic marketing tool that can help your business grow, build brand loyalty, and increase revenue. Keeping compliant with all text message marketing laws not only helps your business avoid large fines, but also establishes the professionalism of your brand.
For more information on best practices or how your business can utilize text message marketing, contact a member of the vorText team today for a free demo!
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