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TCPA compliance checklist guidance for text marketing

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

This guide is for informational purposes only. We recommend contacting an attorney to seek additional advice pertaining to the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) and SMS - text marketing best practices in general.

Text Marketing Rules and Regulations: What you Need to Know | Pony Express HQ
TCPA Compliance Checklist Guidance for Text Marketing | Pony Express HQ

There's just one thing you'll need to keep in mind – the rules of the game! ♥️

Three main pieces of legislation govern text marketing in the US:

Below, we discuss the principal regulations to help you remain in compliance throughout your text marketing campaign.

1. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

The TCPA is a US legislation that governs all forms of telecommunication. Passed in 1991, it restricts telemarketing calls, faxes, emails, and messages where there's no consent.

Regarding text marketing, the TCPA requires four things, i.e., prior express written consent, limit permissible abandoned calls on a per-calling campaign basis, auto opt-out mechanism, and appropriate texting times. Also, the entity's identity sending the message and the opt-out instructions must be included in the marketing messages.

2. The CAN-Spam Act

The CAN-Spam (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act was passed by the US Congress in 2003. It institutes further rules to protect consumers and businesses from unwanted telemarketing messages.

The Act addresses a wide range of issues. For instance, it states that marketers cannot use false or misleading header information. Marketers also cannot use deceptive subject lines. Additionally, you must tell recipients where you're located and honor opt-out requests promptly.

3. The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

Since several brands in the US extend their marketing campaigns to Canada, it would also be beneficial to learn about laws governing commercial mass text messaging in Canada. The CASL legislation is arguably the most important of such laws.

CASL is almost similar to the US TCPA laws, with both centering around the need for client consent. The only difference is that CASL consent comes in basic and express forms. Implied consent applies when a consumer publicly publishes their info. Express consent, meanwhile, applies when the person explicitly agrees to receive your messages. Per CASL laws, explicit consent expires after two years, while express consent only expires when the person withdraws consent.

The TCPA Compliance Checklist for Text Marketing:

What You Should Know & Do

The three laws above (TCPA, CAN-Spam Act, and CASL) will tell you everything required of marketers and advertisers who'd wish to use mass text messaging for commercial purposes.

Your customers need to know why they are signing up for your service, and providing their phone numbers does not mean someone has given permission to be texted (per the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)). Customers must be actively willing to agree to receive your text messages. If you text people without their explicit permission, you are spamming them. Please, don't be that person!🙅‍

TCPA opt-in requirements

TCPA opt-in requirements:

Make sure before sending a text message;

  • You need "Prior Express Written Consent" for sending a text message. ★

  • You need "Prior Express Written Consent" for adding or importing contacts.

  • The first text message you send must be a compliance message that confirms opt-in.

  • You can send a text message to people between 9:00 AM and 9:00 PM local time.

  • You must make known your identity, the name of your company! Remind them who you are. Especially with your first text message to anyone. (If this is your first contact or if they didn't save your number)

  • The purpose of the text campaign; why are you sending text messages? What are your messages about?

  • The intended message frequency; how many messages they will get per month, per week. (4 msgs/month)

  • What they will get by signing up; what they should expect from your text marketing campaign. 

  • Disclose useful information and opt-out instructions; tell your subscribers exactly how to opt out or ask for help, such as by replying to the text message with the word "STOP" to opt out or text "HELP" for info.

  • Any fees that they could be charged; that standard message and data rates may apply. 

  • Do not include content involving illegal behavior or substances, violence, or adult content such as nudity, profanity, or hate speech. You can't text Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco in the text marketing messages.

  • Be respectful. This is their personal phone number; treat this privilege with care!

  • Message thoughtfully and carefully.♥️

An example text message can sound something like this: "This is a message from XXX regarding XXX." Another example below is a compliant confirmation text message indicating a subscriber has opted into your mass text messaging.

Hi there, thank you for opting-in to Pony Express HQ texting notifications and alerts.
Msg&data rates may apply. Text STOP to end, HELP for info. Up to 4 msgs/month. By signing up, you agree to receive text messages at this mobile phone number.

Check this out to learn best practices: Do's and don'ts for mass text messaging

⚡️Can I send a text blast asking for people's permission to send text messages?

The short answer is no. You can not!🙅‍

It's important to understand compliance before you send a message. Prior express written consent from your contacts is mandatory. Your first text message to new contacts must be a compliance message.

When someone signs up to receive your text marketing messages, please make sure you have explained clearly what they know what they are getting into. You can't just subscribe to them on the basis of a one-time text. Let your customer know exactly what types of messages they will receive (reminders, promotions, discounts, event announcements, RSVPs, last minutes updates, etc.), estimated text frequency for monthly or weekly, and what they should expect from the campaign.

Relevant articles:

🔥 Penalties for Noncompliance

The FCC doesn't award individual damages to spam recipients. Instead, the agency enforces compliance by issuing warnings and imposing stiff penalties on companies that break existing laws.

As it stands, non-compliant companies pay a $500 to $1,500 fine for every unsolicited message. So it means that if you wrongfully send inappropriate messages to a few thousand recipients, you could end up paying millions in damages.

♥️ We are here to help you

As you can see, compliance can be a little tricky. Even the timing of messages can sometimes cause mixed reactions among recipients, potentially drawing the wrong attention. Working with a professional text marketing company like Pony Express HQ can help prevent complaints and unwanted legal issues.

Have questions? Visit our website today, and we'll be glad to assist.

Pony Express HQ


✅ Next Related Resources: How to Opt-Out from SMS Text Message Campaigns 💬



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