In 2013, the FTC released additional rules regarding the Telecommunication Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and in these rules reaffirmed that text messages were subject to the TCPA. As text messages are sent to wireless numbers, any company sending text messages must comply with the rules regarding calls to wireless numbers, including having consent in writing from the owner of the wireless number (with a few exceptions where a text to the company may act as consent as further discussed herein).
There is no pre-existing business relationship exemption for not having written consent for text messages as there is with phone calls to residential phone numbers.
Consent Requirements for Ongoing Text Messaging
The following methods are available to receive consent for these texts to wireless numbers:
- a signed written document where consent is clearly given to text a wireless number for marketing purposes.
- a electronically signed document where consent is clearly given to text message a wireless number for marketing purposes.
- a request sent by specific text from the wireless number in response to an advertisement (i.e. an advertisement in a magazine, a flyer at a store, etc.) to receive text messages for marketing purposes where it is clear that by sending the specific text, the wireless number will receive text messages.
For TCPA compliant language you can use to gather consent from the consumers your business contacts by text, download our eBook, TCPA Consent Requirements for Texting.
Consent Requirements for One-time Text Messaging
Consumers may give consent for a one-time text message for information, coupons, or other reasons. If someone sends a company a text message requesting information based off of an advertisement or document (i.e. loan balance, payment due date, in store advertisement for a coupon, etc.), the company can send a one-time text to the wireless number that sent the message with the requested information provided that such information is sent immediately to the requestor. The company cannot wait more than a few minutes to send the requested information.
Further, the text message must only contain the requested information and no other forms of advertising. If the message contains any information other than what was requested, the company must have express written consent to send the text.
Just like with calls to wireless numbers, individuals who receive text messages can revoke consent through any reasonable mean at any time. Companies cannot limit the way that consent can be given nor can they limit the time that it can be given. For example, a company cannot say that someone can only un-subscribe from text messages by sending a text message at a specific time or in a specific manner. The customer must be able to use any reasonable means available to unsubscribe, including, but not limited to:
- unsubscribing by providing notice directly to the company;
- unsubscribing by calling a number provided on the company’s website;
- unsubscribing by mail; and
- unsubscribing by email.
Learn additional best practices for unsubscribe methods and get TCPA compliant language you can use to allow the consumers your business contacts to revoke consent. Download our eBook, TCPA Consent Requirements for Texting.
Calls to Numbers Formerly Owned by Someone Providing Consent
Companies are allowed to text a wireless number that is no longer owned by the consenting party once. The FTC places a high burden on companies to do due diligence regarding reassigned numbers. Due to this, BellesLink requires that our clients follow the best practices as stated by the FCC for reassigned numbers that includes the following:
- Companies must require that all recipients notify the company if he or she receives a new number as part of their agreement with the company.
- Companies must include opt-out methods to allow new owners of reassigned numbers to opt-out of future text messages.
- Companies should send requests for updated information at least yearly to all of the individuals it calls.
As this post is not intended to be, nor should it be, considered legal advice but rather best practices that we require from our customers to comply with federal law as we have interrupted it, if you have any questions or concerns regarding whether you are following state and federal laws for placing calls, you should consult an attorney. Depending on your specific situation, your attorney may recommend that you follow more stringent guidelines than we require to ensure that you comply with the law based on the facts of your case. You may also receive more information from the FCC’s website, the FTC’s website, and your local state government’s website.