SMS and MMS are a great way to connect directly with your customers – but there are some legal implications companies should be aware of before they start sending texts out. The rules and best practices governing how to text legally are set by multiple agencies, which can make it tough to figure out exactly what you need to know.
First, there’s the TCPA, or the Telephone Protection Act of 1991, which initially targeted telemarketers and robocalls, but now encompasses digital communication as well. The Campaign Registry is a newer regulatory group created specifically by wireless carriers to limit fraud and spam. And if you ever communicate about personal health, you need to be sure you are HIPAA compliant. HIPAA is the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act. Here are 6 of the rules you need to know in order to comply with all these guidelines and ensure your messages get delivered.
Get written consent with opt-ins
For business texting, you must have the written consent of the other person, requiring an explicit opt-in. Written consent doesn’t necessarily mean the writing has to be on paper, but rather an explicit agreement to receive text messages that is then stored by the company. Examples include keyword texting to join an SMS database, an online form, or a website popup. For texts that may contain HIPAA-protected information, a double opt-in is required.
Opt-ins must include the name of your business, types of messages you will send, notification that standard message and data rates may apply, and confirmation that no purchase is necessary.
Consumers also need to be able to opt-out of receiving text messages from you. Examples include allowing consumers to easily reply to a text with “stop”, “end”, or something similar. Companies need to stop texting these customers and store these numbers to ensure no texts are sent in the future.
Register with The Campaign Registry
The Campaign Registry was created by the mobile carriers, and registering lets them know who you are and why you are texting. Texts sent by registered numbers are not scrutinized as closely as other texts, so completing this registration will help your messages get through to customers without being flagged as undeliverable.
Use a secure business platform for personal health information
To remain HIPAA compliant, any texting that contains protected health information (PHI) needs to be sent from a secure texting platform. Alternatively, you could refrain from sending texts that explicitly contain PHI.
Update your terms and conditions
Your terms and conditions needs to be updated to reflect your SMS program. Make sure you have specific texting terms and conditions available on your website and on any promotional pieces advertising your SMS program.
Send relevant content
Related to rule number one, the messages you send must be relevant to what the customer gave consent for. For example, if you have only gathered consent for order updates, you would not be able to send promotional SMS messages.
Start sending business texts today with Clerk
Clerk lets you send real-time text messages in Slack, internally and externally to consumers. We have hundreds of companies who are using Clerk to harness the power of direct customer communication. But to best take advantage of customer SMS, you need to be sure you understand and follow legal requirements. Learn more about Clerk – SMS for Slack.