TCPA vs CTIA – What’s the Difference?

In this article, we talk about the difference between the CTIA and the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act), and how they relate to text message marketing.


What Are the TCPA and the CTIA?

The TCPA is a federal law in the United States. The CTIA is a trade organization for USA based wireless carriers (for ex. Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T). The CTIA creates guidelines for SMS marketers.

Unlike with the TCPA, it is not possible for consumers to sue brands when they violate the CTIA guidelines. Examples of CTIA guidelines are required terms and conditions disclosures like “message and data rates may apply”, “text HELP for help”, or “text STOP to unsubscribe”.

Forgetting these disclosures in the terms and conditions cannot lead to lawsuits. However, violating the CTIA guidelines can still get brands in trouble. The CTIA can make the decision to shut down or suspend their text message marketing short codes if the violations are severe.


TCPA Lawsuits and Statutory Damages Resulting from Them

Lawsuits can only occur when a violation of the TCPA takes place. When brands face such lawsuits, the risk having to pay statutory damages that range from $500 to $1500 per wrongfully send SMS message to each plaintiff.

When brands wrongfully send messages to a large number of receivers, then they can end up having to pay million or billion dollar fines.

What’s more, TCPA violating brands not only face lawsuits that put them up against consumers, because the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), the FCC (Federal Communications Commission, and the State Attorneys General can come after them as well.

With the stakes being so high, it is certainly worth it to take a closer look at TCPA compliance, and especially at the prior written consent requirement.


The Importance of Getting Prior Written Consent for SMS Marketing

SMS messages are being send to mobile phones. Separate TCPA rules apply for these mobile devices. The key thing to keep in mind for SMS marketing message sending brands is that they need prior written consent from consumers.

Prior express consent is enough for informational messages, but it is best for organizations to always go for prior written consent. Failure to get the proper consent from a consumer can lead brands to the courthouse.


Follow TCPA Rules and CTIA Guidelines When Doing SMS Marketing

So now you know that even though the CTIA has guidelines and the TCPA is a federal law, it is important to follow both as a text message marketer. After all, you don’t wat to face an expansive lawsuit or a short code suspension.

Always carefully look into the TCPA compliance requirements and the CTIA guidelines to stay out of trouble when you’re setting up and/or running a text message marketing campaign.

If you need some help with better understanding the TCPA rules, then also have a look at this Tatango YouTube playlist, or reach out us via this contact form to further discuss your concerns and/or questions.

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