The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) defines a specific set of rules and regulations governing autodialers and other tools that brands use to mass-connect with consumers. Violating TCPA guidelines via SMS marketing opens the door for consumers to sue the offending brand, with fees of up to $1,500 per message, per person.
What is a TCPA Demand Letter?
Unfortunately, any time there is a law that lets consumers sue a company for money, there are cases where the law will be abused. So what happens if your company receives a TCPA demand letter for text message marketing?
To begin, it’s worth clarifying that a letter saying, “I didn’t consent to these calls, give me [insert sum of money] and I’ll settle quickly,” does NOT mean you are being sued.
This is not a lawsuit, it’s a demand letter. It has not reached the court, and there are no legal consequences behind it. However, you can’t just ignore it.
What to Do if You Receive a TCPA Demand Letter
The instant you receive a letter like this, start preserving evidence. One tell-tell giveaway that the threat is unsubstantiated is if the sender doesn’t include their phone number. That’s because you don’t have the plaintiff’s phone number, then you cannot cross-reference your database to check their claims.
Immediately begin working with your legal counsel, just in case. TCPA litigations are real, and violations for any significant campaign can easily reach into the millions of dollars. It’s worth bringing your risk management and legal departments into these situations.
Additionally, look into your insurance policies and determine what coverage you have.
Keeping evidence of consent, whether via recorded calls or saved text messaging, is the only surefire way to counteract these kinds of claims. Your best defense against any kind of plaintiff is proof of consent. Otherwise, the courts will default to the plaintiff because you’re unable to prove that you didn’t violate the TCPA.
Keep your records safe and organized to guard against these kinds of events. Demonstrating proof of consent will put 9 out of 10 plaintiff’s attorneys on the back foot. Showing a clear defense will make the lawsuit not worth the effort.
SMS Providers who Understand TCPA Regulations
It’s for these reasons that we always encourage text message marketers to work with an SMS provider versed in TCPA regulations. The laws around TCPA compliance have fringe cases and grey areas that will be ruled on differently in each individual court or location. Having a team of trusted experts to guide you through the process, and help you avoid the pitfalls of an SMS marketing demand letter or lawsuit, will save you money in the long run.
We hope this breakdown was helpful to you! If you’re interested in learning more about SMS marketing and the TCPA, check out our free TCPA Text Messaging Survival Guide.