Staying compliant is a major key to long term success with text messaging initiatives, but what can you do and what can't you? What do the acronyms mean? What happens if you break the rules? This guide will help you navigate the ins and outs of compliance for text messaging.
The Campaign Registry (TCR): The Campaign Registry is an officially sanctioned information hub that allows Campaign SMS Service Providers (CSPs), and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) like Mav, to verify Application-to-Person 10-Digit Long Codes (A2P 10DLC) messaging campaigns on behalf of its customers. Registering tells TCR who is sending text message campaigns, and what messages are being sent. The benefits of registering and becoming a verified 10DLC is to ensure more reliable and simple messaging that is far less likely to be marked as spam by mobile carriers.
If you're planning to text, this is an organization that you should not only be familiar with, but stay up to date with any changes they make, and how those new policies effect your business.
For example, If you use the SMS provider Twilio, as of October 1st, 2022, Twilio has applied industry-wide thresholds for messaging sent over unverified (that is, not TCR verified) Toll-Free numbers. The daily limits are 2000, and the monthly limits are 25,000. If the limits are exceeded, any further texts will be blocked with an error code. This is very important to know if you plan to send high volumes of text messages, and aren't yet verified by TCR. You can learn more about the verification process here.
Mav has a block of local 10-Digit Long Code (10DLC), Toll-Free numbers that we can assign and verify via The Campaign Registry. We also work with our customers who want to enable and verify their existing Toll-Free or 1-800 numbers for SMS, or secure new, verified 10DLCs.
At the center of all of the laws and regulations is Opt-In. In order to ensure your business does not violate any rules and run the risk of your messages being blocked, you must get text opt-in either before you begin sending messages (sometimes when a customer fills out an online form or contract, they opt-in to receive this type of communication), or within the first text message you send.
There are two common ways of prompting a customer with this information that ensures you remain compliant with the rules:
TCPA Opt-In: Acquiring the person's permission to send them text messages at the source, like a webpage, online form check box or physical form.
Double Opt-In: Confirming that the person has already expressed interest in receiving text messages through another source (by texting into the number first, filling out an online form, etc), and then asking them to re-confirm that they would like to receive messages.
Example: "Hi [first name], it's Mav from ABC Lawfirm. We recently received your request for a free legal consultation. Reply YES to see if you qualify for the Sonos Class Action Lawsuit."
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA): The TCPA is the primary federal law governing the regulation of telephone solicitations in the United States. The TCPA applies to people, businesses and entities and covers any communications via voice calls, faxes, VoIP calls, and text messages.
Essentially, solicitations are defined by business interactions. The act officially covers "the initiation of a telephone call or message for the purpose of encouraging the purchase or rental of, or investment in, property, goods, or services, which is transmitted to any person, but such term does not include a call or message (A) to any person with that person’s prior express invitation or permission, (B) to any person with whom the caller has an established business relationship, or (C) by a tax-exempt nonprofit organization.” So according to this, if you have permission (opt-in) or an existing relationship with this person, you can call and message them.
TCR Trust Score: As of September 28, 2022, Twilio now deprecates the ability to register new Starter Brands due to updated registration requirements from The Campaign Registry (TCR). TCR now requires additional details for existing registrations, including things like a Tax ID (EIN), US or Canadian address, and limits on brands and campaigns allowed per phone number. Existing, registered Starter Brands will need to meet the new guidelines by November 3, 2022.
Under the new A2P 10DLC service, there are changes to how message-sending throughput is allocated. Throughputs are now determined by a Trust Score and the Campaign type. Further messaging limits may also be imposed by individual mobile carriers.
A Trust Score is assigned during the registration phase with TCR. A reputation algorithm is then used to review criteria related to your business and generate your Trust Score from 0 to 100. The higher your Trust Score, the higher your messaging throughput, measured by message segments per second or MPS. Trust Scores are static and do not automatically change over time.
What causes a low trust score? A low trust score may be the result of a small brand or business presence, or data discrepancies in the information submitted in the A2P registration (like a different business address than your EIN address). You can appeal your score, but the appeal may be subject to additional vetting fees.
How does Message Segments Per Second (MPS) differ depending on your Trust Score? As an example, Twilio has reported the following throughputs. Businesses with a Trust Score of 1-49 will have 12 Total SMS MPS toward major US mobile networks (AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon). Those with a Trust Score of 75-100 will have 225 Total SMS MPS. You can see more data for special use cases and message types here.
Toll-Free SMS numbers are not affected by the throughput changes, and do not need to adapt to the new campaign registration requirements. This is important to consider when selecting which type of phone number your business will use for texting. For more details on the differences between the numbers you can text from, check out this guide.
CAN-SPAM Act: The Federal Communications Commission has set rules under the CAN-SPAM Act that ban businesses from sending emails and text messages to a mobile phone, unless a person has previously given written consent (opt-in) to receive messages, or they are sent for emergency purposes.
Now that you have a clear picture of the rules you need to follow to start sending text messages, you may have an idea of what steps you need to take to get up and running. Or, maybe you're still a bit confused about how get your business approved by the wireless carriers and make sure you do not break any laws.
We're here to help.
One of the benefits of using Mav is that we handle the entire process - from deciding which phone number option is right for your business, to verifying those numbers, ensuring you stay compliant and avoid spam filters, and knowing how to scale to high volumes with the fastest speeds and most competitive pricing. Not to mention, we already have a registered and approved short code that our customers can use, or we can help you navigate the process of securing your own short code or verified A2P 10DLC or toll-free number.
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