Enacted in 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA, originally protected consumers from telemarketing calls and the like. But just because texting didn’t exist then doesn’t mean this statute isn’t applicable to you. Business texting is not exempt from these rules and you need to prioritize TCPA compliance.
Here are three simple details to help you better understand the TCPA.
Under the TCPA 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. Basically, don’t text people unless they give you permission to do so.
Prior consent requires that your customer take an affirmative step, such as checking a box or replying with a typed response. When you invite contacts to opt in, make sure the language is clear and conspicuous. Don’t make it difficult for them to understand what they are agreeing to.
The opt-in process must be provided to the customer by some means other than a text message, such as an email message or a web form. Proof of opt-in by your customer should be stored for at least five years.
You might also want to use a double opt-in approach. If you do, the first message to the customer would include similar language to the initial 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. From time to time, you might include opt out instructions, 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.
The above information is not meant to be legal advice. If you need further assistance on the issue of TCPA compliance, contact a legal professional in your area.