The Opt-In Requirement
The TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) protects personal cell phones from receiving hundreds of unwanted text messages per day. In fact, it keeps the cell phone from turning into the email inbox: unmanageable and full of spam. In other words, you probably enjoy the benefits of the TCPA and are realizing, as you read this, that it is an important law.
One of the critical rules of the TCPA is that, in most cases, it requires the sender to get written permission (aka “opt-in” or “prior express consent”) from recipients before sending automated calls or text messages to their cell phones. Consequently, established relations are not exempt from this requirement—customers, patients, employees, club members, and registered users must agree to receive automated calls and text messages.
Getting Opt-Ins From Recipients
There are many ways to ask recipients to opt-in to receiving automated calls or text messages:
- Include a checkbox and opt-in wording to a paper registration form.
- Add a checkbox and opt-in wording to an online registration form.
- Get permission via email.
- Insert opt-in wording to an existing agreement that customers routinely enter, such as a contract, a registration form, or a scope of work agreement.
Examples of Opt-In Wording for Informational Campaigns
Although we cannot give legal advice regarding the TCPA, here are some examples of our customers’ opt-in wording for informational campaigns. Please note: promotional campaigns that can result in the sale of a product or service have additional requirements.
“By completing this form, I agree to receive automated appointment confirmations via call, text message, or email.”
“▢ By checking this box, you are allowing (Company Name) to send you automated text messages and calls to the phone number you have provided.”
“I authorize (Company Name) to send automated calls and text messages to this cell
phone number: _________________”
“Use this phone number to send me automated text and call notifications: _______________”
Because some healthcare messages require a verbal opt-in and others require a written opt-in, it has become standard practice for healthcare providers to get a written opt-in from all patients. The TCPA indeed allows healthcare providers to send “urgent” healthcare treatment information without receiving prior consent. However, patients may not incur charges for the message, i.e., messages cannot count toward the patient’s text/minute allowances or other plan limits. Since it is impossible to know what type of plan a patient has, we strongly urge all healthcare providers to collect opt-ins.
Does ReminderCall.com Need to See All Opt-ins?
ReminderCall.com is merely a platform for sending automated calls, text messages, and emails. In other words, users are solely responsible for the content of their calls, text messages, and emails, and they have sole liability for their communications. To use the ReminderCall.com platform, users must sign the Compliance Agreement, acknowledging their legal responsibility to collect opt-ins from recipients. Although we do not collect all opt-ins, users sometimes need to provide a copy of their opt-in form for clarification.
Automated Email Requirements
The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act regulates automated emails, and it does not have an opt-in requirement. That said, the emails must include an opt-out or unsubscribe mechanism. They must also fulfill all other CAN-SPAM requirements:
- They can not use false or misleading header information.
- They can not include deceptive subject lines.
- They must identify marketing messages as advertisements.
- A valid postal address must appear in every email.
- Obvious opt-out information must be clear.
- Senders must honor unsubscribe requests promptly.
The TCPA is not the only law that governs automated calls and text messages: phone carriers must abide by best practices set forth by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA). Be aware that automated calls and text messages that do not follow best practices often get blocked by the recipient’s phone carrier. Here is a list of some guidelines:
- As per this article, do not use the ReminderCall.com Platform and Services without obtaining prior opt-in.
- Do not send any unsolicited or harassing messages (commercial or otherwise), including but not limited to unsolicited phone calls, text messages, or emails.
- Avoid sending automated text messages or calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. local time.
- Do not harvest or otherwise collect information about others, including email addresses or phone numbers.
- Avoid sending automated text messages or calls that do not include your identity.
- Do not misrepresent your (or your organization’s) identity.
For a more detailed list of rules regarding ReminderCall.com platform’s usage, please refer to our Terms of Service.
For more information about opt-in requirements, please refer to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq., and related regulations, 47 C.F.R. Part 64.1200, et seq; and the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), 16 C.F.R. Part 310, et seq. For regulations regarding email, check out the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003. Mobile Phone regulations can be found in the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) U.S. Consumer Best Practices Guidelines for Messaging. Other cell phone guidelines are provided in the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) Best Practices and Guidelines for Location-Based Services; CTIA Messaging Principles and Best Practice and the CTIA SMS Interoperability Guidelines. Canadian laws governing automated calls, text messages and emails are listed in Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).
THIS INFORMATION IS NOT TO BE USED AS SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL COUNSEL.