5 Compliance Tips from the “CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook” You Need to Know

17 Oct

If you’re new to text messaging, the CTIA is the most reliable source of best practices to help you stay compliant with current mobile communications regulations. 

The CTIA is a trade organization focused on the U.S. wireless communication industry. It includes carriers, industry members, and other professionals in the wireless business. This article focuses on insights on their most recent guidelines released in the CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook in 2017, and the recent Addendum for 2018.

EZ Texting is not giving legal advice, but we wanted to help you understand and implement these best practices so that you can stay compliant and effective in your text marketing. Here are some guiding principles that the CTIA starts with in the handbook:

  • Calls-to-action for texting programs should make it clear what customers are signing up for, who is sending the message, and opt out instructions (i.e. Reply STOP to opt out)
  • Opt-in processes should always include clear consent from the consumer
  • When a user opts-in to a texting program, they should be sent a confirmation reply

Building on these principles, here is a deeper dive on 5 texting best practices outlined in the handbook. Images below are reproduced from the handbook:

1. No Unsolicited Messages- Your contact must provide explicit consent before you send a message to them. If they opt-out, you must immediately stop sending messages.

opt in example from the CTIA Handbook

2. Use Proper Opt-In Methods– Sending a message to a Keywordand agreeing to receive texts on an online form are two common compliant ways to opt-in. Calls to action must include

  1. Message frequency
  2. Service description
  3. Bolded help commands (or email address, or phone number)
  4. Privacy statement
  5. The term "Message & Data Rates May Apply"
  6. Terms of the program

Example: To join EZ Texting Alert notifications, Text JOIN to 313131*

*You will only be contacted in regards to EZTEXTING specials, your privacy will be protected and your information will not be shared. Up to 4 msgs/mo. Reply HELP for help or STOP to cancel. Msg&data rates may apply. Terms

3. Explain Your Recurring Text Program– Send a confirmation to subscribers that explains that they’ve enrolled in a recurring program. Include the company name, customer care information, opt-out instructions, “message and data rates may apply” disclosure, and information about the frequency of the text messages.

Confirmation example from CTIA handbook

4. Allow Customers to Opt-Out Easily– For recurring programs, opt-out instructions should be shown at opt-in and “at regular intervals in the content or service messages, at least once per month” according to the handbook. Also, “Opt-out information must be displayed on the advertisement or within the terms and conditions.”

Optout example from CTIA Handbook

Your Content Must Be Appropriate- Your messages must comply with all state and federal laws. It must be age-gated if it refers to the sale of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, or adult content. Many short codes cannot support this kind of content, so you should talk to your provider before trying to send.

Messages must also “exclude elements that a reasonable person could construe as hateful or violent or as intending to incite violence” according to the handbook. Where state and federal laws conflict, federal laws apply. Consult the Addendum for more details.


We’re Here to Help You Stay Compliant

Compliance can be tricky, but getting it right makes your customers happier and you protected. We always suggest reviewing the CTIA Handbook and Addendum. If you have questions about EZ Texting service, please call our Client Success Managers at (866) 676-2180.


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