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The CAN-SPAM Act 2003 and Bulk SMS / MMS

This page is an effort to educate TraiTel customers on their responsibilities when using electronic means to contact and promote to customers.

Isn't Spam just junk email?

When we think of Spam, we traditionally only consider unwanted emails about medicine or watches, but under the CAN-SPAM Act 2003, any unwanted electronic message including SMS, MMS, or email, can be considered Spam.

OK so what do I have to do?

The 3 key elements of the CAN-SPAM Act 2003 require the sender of the message (that's you not TraiTel) to:

  • 1) Obtain consent to contact the recipients of your message
  • 2) Clearly identify yourself or your organization as the sender of your messages
  • 3) Make sure your messages have a functional method to easily unsubscribe from future contact

How do I make sure I'm covering all of those points?

Hopefully point 1 is clear: if you're broadcasting to people without any consent, you're a spammer! And you should reconsider your practices.

Points 2 and 3 can be a little more difficult to get right without adversely impacting your business or customers. The simplest way to identify yourself and provide an unsubscribe facility, is to use TraiTel's reply-paths, and process any replies you get, if you finish each message with "From Acme co. Reply STOP to unsubscribe." or a clearly abbreviated version of that, you should be compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act.

What about Custom Sender ID? Won't that even more clearly identify us?

Perhaps, but what about replies? Remember, your customers can't reply to a word, so they can't easily unsubscribe. Also, think about the other benefits of replies, if you're a restaurant, you can take bookings by reply SMS, or if you're an electrician you can receive requests for quotes.

We only broadcast to our existing customers, so we have their consent for ever, they won't need to unsubscribe

Wrong! Even if someone signs a form one minute to receive promotions from your company for the rest of eternity, under the CAN-SPAM Act 2003, they have to be able to change their mind the next minute, and unsubscribe from those same promotions.

We don't want to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act 2003, what's the worst that could happen?

This isn't an unenforcable law, remember, everything leaves a trail electronically, and the penalties can be severe. The media has been covering stories lately with organizations liable for fines in the millions of dollars for violating the CAN-SPAM Act.

Also, think of your customers! If they don't want to receive your promotions, is it really worth annoying them any further? At TraiTel we consider our customers to be our primary focus, and any inconvenience to them is a potential barrier to further business.

Further reading - CAN-SPAM Index