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A Guide to CTIA & TCPA Compliance: Use Our Simple Checklist to Remain SMS Compliant

If you have a teenage son or daughter, you know the easiest way to reach them is through text. While teenagers are notoriously hard to reach, even they are susceptible to statistics.

The same rule applies to your customers. 

In an emergency, would you trust an email to reach your teen? Heck no!

Then why would you trust your most important marketing efforts to an email? Seems a little silly, doesn’t it? 

Like teenagers, customers are savvy at tuning out what they don’t like to hear. As a business, that means your best marketing efforts. But, just like teenagers,  they too are susceptible to statistics. 

While emails and calls are often left unanswered, text messages flat out get read. In fact, text messages are three times more likely to be read than your trusted newsletter (yes, we see the irony here). 

Maybe that’s why SMS marketing is quickly taking over the top spot held for many years by email. While SMS may be the easiest way to communicate with your customers, it’s important to know how to do it right. 

Consider this your simple checklist for SMS compliance.


What is SMS Compliance? 

What you don’t know can hurt you — especially in business. 

That’s why if you’re considering using SMS messaging as your go-to marketing tool in 2021, it’s essential to know the compliance laws attached to short message services. There are two compliance measures you should understand fully. They are TCPA and CTIA. 

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was established in 1991 to protect consumers from SPAM and secure their personal data and privacy. These compliance standards are applicable to phone calls and text messages. 

If your business is planning on maintaining compliance in 2021 using SMS, you’ll want to keep sections four and five top of mind. 

Section 4 Telephone Solicitation: Telephone solicitation applies to any call or message with the intent to purchase or rent a product or service.

In order to be compliant, businesses must meet specific criteria when reaching out to customers. 

Those criteria are: 

  1. There must be permission or written consent. 
  2. There must be an established business relationship. 
  3. If not meeting the first two, it must be a tax-exempt non-profit organization. 

Section 5 Unsolicited Advertisement: Unsolicited advertising means any advertisement to purchase or rent goods and services without the permission or written consent of the consumer. 

In short, sections four and five are federal legislation that protects the privacy and security of consumers from annoying or unwanted calls or text messages.

Unlike the TCPA that is federal legislation, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) is a series of guidelines written to protect consumers and the interests of major mobile carriers. 

That is done through the introduction of shortcodes. These are a short string of alphanumeric texts that allow consumers to opt-in or opt-out of SMS services from a business. 


What are the Penalties of Non-Compliance? 

It pays to be informed — especially in business. 

Before you jump into SMS marketing, it’s essential to understand the penalties of non-compliance. 

When it comes right down to it, the penalties for violating TCPA are hefty. Penalties can range anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per text message — not per conversation.

These fines are tacked on every time you contact any customer that: 

  • Did not opt-in to receive marketing text messages
  • Unsubscribed, but was sent marketing text messages anyway

As you might realize, these fines can add up quickly. Such was the case for these companies:  

  • In 2013, Domino’s Pizza paid $10 million when customers allegedly complained about receiving unsolicited calls and text messages for promotions without explicit consent.  
  • In 2017, Dish Network was fined $341 million in damages after violating TCPA laws by allegedly calling numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.

So how can you safeguard yourself to ensure you are SMS compliant? We’re glad you asked. Please follow this simple checklist to ensure that you are SMS compliant in 2021 and beyond. 


Your SMS Compliance Checklist

Now that you understand the importance of SMS compliance and the penalties associated with becoming non-compliant, let’s dive into three important steps you should take before contacting any customer: 

  1. General Consent: make sure to get customer consent before sending any informational, conversational, or transactional messages. 
  2. Written Consent: always get written consent before sending automated marketing messages to any customer. 
  3. Provide an Easy Opt-Out Option: always provide easy-to-follow opt-out instructions. Next, make sure to remove customers who opt-out in a timely fashion (within ten days).

 With that out of the way, let’s dive into your simple SMS compliance checklist

  1. Don’t purchase phone lists for SMS marketing purposes. 
  2. Always follow TCPA and obtain written consent before sending automated marketing materials through SMS. 
  3. Explicitly state what customers are signing up for and include the frequency of SMS messaging in your Call to Action. 
  4. Never send SMS messages that contain hate speech, violence, or sexual material. 
  5. Seek to provide value with each SMS and avoid SPAM. 
  6. Maintain SMS messaging during regular hours (9 am – 9 pm). 
  7. Respect the frequency you agreed upon with the customer during opt-in. 
  8. Always confirm that the phone number collected is correct and legitimate. 
  9. Remember to follow CTIA guidelines and always disclose additional charges that may apply to SMS messaging.
  10. When using an SMS marketing platform, go for one that is TCPA and CTIA compliant.


Knock Out those Review Request Using SMS with WebPunch

Reviews are the lifeblood of any business. 

Reviews help your business build leads, increase sales, and grab the pulse of your customers. Make sure your review requests get read using SMS messaging with WebPunch! 

We offer SMS messaging for review requests from our desktop and Mobile Ask app. 

To learn more about our SMS features and how you can benefit from WebPunch’s review response services, please visit our website

To schedule a demo or for any questions about compliance and using our SMS tools for review generation, reach out to us at WebPunch.

Brian Joyce

Brian Joyce

Brian is a content writer, copywriter, and author. When he’s not busy writing, you can find him whistling a punk tune while performing chores, playing with his two boys, or enjoying his wife’s company. He lives in Providence with his wife, two children, and a cat with no depth perception that likes to take miscalculated jumps.