TCPA & Promotional Text Messages
We’ve all seen it—“Text DEAL to 12345 for a discount on your next purchase!” And when we have an opportunity to save for an immediate need, we take it. But what happens when a one-time promotional text turns into weekly advertising texts that wasn’t agreed to?
Spam text messages have become the modern day version of junk mail – except you pay for it, since most cell phone carriers charge per incoming text. Consumers are becoming desensitized to the annoying- and costly- effects of unsolicited messages, and may feel that spam text messages have become the “norm,” habitually deleting messages as they come through with increasing irritation. What many don’t know is laws have been put in place to protect consumers like you from receiving unwanted messages invading your phone and increasing your phone bill.
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Why should I be concerned about spam text messages?
Consumers are now out with the old and in with the new, having traded in landline phones for cellular devices. 40% of American households now rely exclusively on wireless telephone service, and advertising companies have taken notice. The open rate of promotional text messages is 98% since consumers carry their phone, making it impossible to avoid the especially intrusive autodialed text messages.
Unlike traditional forms of advertising, consumers are forced to take on the costs of spam text messages when wireless service plans do not include unlimited text messaging, regardless of whether or not the message was authorized by the recipient. The Pew Research Center estimates that 69% of cell phone users who use text messaging receive unwanted text message spam, and of those users, 25% face problems with unwanted spam texts at least weekly.
What is the TCPA?
After consumer complaints regarding intrusive and costly telemarketing practices, Congress stepped in to defend the privacy of telephone subscribers. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, known as TCPA, was signed into law to protect consumers from unsolicited calls and text messages from automated dialers. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has outlined specific rules in the TCPA that restrict companies from sending promotional or advertising text messages without having received written consent from the recipient. The laws that Congress have set in place allow the recipient of an unwanted spam text message to collect between $500 and $1500 for each text violation.
What counts as a violation?
- Using an automated dialer and/or pre-recorded message, called “robocalling”
- Sending unsolicited text messages without written consent from the recipient
- Calling numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry or on any “do-not-call” lists
- Lack of specific language as outlined in the TCPA, including number of messages per month, data and fees that might apply, and providing opt-out information
- Any call or message received from an automatic telephone dialing system, other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party.
Read more about the TCPA here. Just because you provided your phone number to a company does not give them the right to send you unsolicited messages. After October 16, 2013, new requirements within the TCPA require companies to obtain prior written consent (a signature is needed) that you specifically agree to receive text messages from an autodialer.
Who should I look out for?
Any business or company who has sent you a message that has not received your prior consent may be in violation. Below are a few of the many examples of companies that have sent promotional text messages to consumers.
- Gas stations
- Student loan companies
- Insurance companies
- Cable companies
How can I make a difference?
Consumers are fed up with spam text messages invading their phone and have stood up against businesses. These are just a few examples of some recent settlements resulting from promotional text messages.
- Burger King – Consumers were eligible to receive a maximum of $250 following a lawsuit alleging the fast-food giant distributed unwanted texts en masse.
- 20th Century Fox – Class members were eligible to receive a maximum of $200 after the media mogul sent texts following the “Robots” DVD release.
- Career Education – Class members were eligible to receive a maximum of $200 after the company sent texts to consumers without prior express consent.
- Stonebridge Life Insurance – Class members were eligible to receive $155 after the company was sued for illegally inundating consumers with unwanted texts.
- Steve Madden – Class members were eligible to receive a maximum of $150 after the retailer sent unsolicited text advertisements to consumers.
How We Can Help
Protect your rights as a consumer and take action. If you have received a spam promotional text, please call our firm at 1-800-887-8029 or fill out a free confidential case review form. Don’t delete your caller ID record or text messages that may have violated the TCPA. We have helped thousands of individuals stand up for their consumer rights; we can help you too. Give us a call, let’s talk about it.