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TCPA Compliance – How to Switch SMS Short Codes


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Clients frequently ask us how they can stay TCPA compliant when moving subscribers from one short code to another. There are many reasons an organization may need to do this; for example, if it’s moving to another messaging provider. If your organization will be switching subscribers to a new short code, it’s best to consult a TCPA attorney before making the switch to ensure you remain compliant and maintain the necessary records proving subscriber consent. While you can get the full list of recommendations in our free guide about transferring SMS subscribers, below are a few things to get in place before moving short codes.


Have Proof of Consent

First things first, no TCPA rule exists that prohibits switching from one short code to another. As far as the TCPA is concerned, a short code is just another phone number. What the TCPA does address is consent— how consent was given and the scope of that agreement. When consumers subscribe to your list, they agree that your business can contact them in certain ways. The terms of that agreement dictate precisely how you’re allowed to contact your subscribers. Your organization must operate within these limitations to remain compliant with the TCPA.

A TCPA attorney can help you understand these limitations based on what subscribers consent to in your Terms of Service. If your subscribers consented to receive weekly communication from you, keep that in mind when setting up campaigns in your new system, so you don’t contact them more frequently than that. Consent is especially important if your consent agreement specifies on what phone number you can contact your subscribers. That detail could prevent you from switching messaging providers altogether (although that’s not very common).


Have Legal Counsel

Having legal counsel is also important when switching short codes, so you’re prepared if you find yourself under litigation in the future. If you’re facing a lawsuit, you’ll need to show proof that your business obtained consent from subscribers to contact them in the ways you contacted them. Being prepared involves remaining vigilant about how you transfer your opt-out lists, tracking opt-outs sent to your old short code, and retaining consent evidence. When switching providers, the CEO of Tatango, Derek Johnson, even recommends exporting your full messaging history (sent and received messages) so you’re prepared to demonstrate compliance in case of a lawsuit.


Notify Subscribers to Reduce Churn

Legal compliance isn’t the only concern when switching your subscribers to a different short code. Following best practices will also help reduce subscriber churn. If you message your subscribers from a new number unexpectedly or send a message that sounds like an automated robot letting your subscribers know you’re changing your number, you’re likely to see a high churn rate. We’ve seen brands avoid or minimize churn by announcing on their old short code that they’ll be sending an amazing on their new short code. This type of communication helps inform subscribers that the messages are coming from the same business and are not spam, so they’ll be less likely to unsubscribe. 


Ready to Switch Subscribers Over to a New Short Code?

As you’ve learned here, one of the most important factors to keep in mind about maintaining TCPA compliance while switching short codes is the consent between your business and subscribers. With a combination of best practices and legal help, you can successfully switch your subscribers to a new short code with minimal headaches and legal trouble. Remember to check out Tatango’s guide to transferring SMS subscribers for more tips.

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