The same laws that apply to making a phone call, apply to text messages. Text messages are different than email, which is covered by CAN-SPAM guidelines. If a call center is texting they should assume that they should be playing by the same rules as they would with a phone call, and the fines are just as real.
Fines Associated With SMS Violations
The fines average around $500 to $1,500 per event, per recipient. If a company abuses the system and sends a marketing text out for a thousand people at a $1000 fine each the fines can add up quickly. A national pizza chain recently had a $16 million class-action lawsuit settlement for violating TCPA laws with their marketing text messages.
Stay Within Compliance
The rules seem to be better defined with texting than with phone calls. Digitally it is extremely easy to have evidence of what has happened in regards to consent. The record of what has happened is obvious, and people can be held accountable. The main difference is if what a company is sending is considered a robo-text or a manually entered text. But in regards to texting, there are also different rules for what is implied consent.
Whether it's a web form or a written consent form in a store, a company needs to make sure that they're asking for consent. The company also needs to honor opt-outs. Not only does the language need to tell someone how to opt-out, when a customer does opt-out, the center needs to make sure that they discontinue messaging. Similar to calling; a company has to message someone at the right times in their time zone. These times are typically 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
Some Laws Are Open To Interpretation
A lot of these laws are open to interpretation. As time goes on, the laws will begin to be better defined because there are actual cases to help define the laws. However, that was the problem at the start. What is a manual text message? Is it where someone has to physically push a button? Is it one where someone physically punches the numbers to send the text? All of these things have been settled by case law, and are giving us a better understanding of the laws surrounding SMS messages. If a company decides they are going to be sending text messages to their customers, they should absolutely consult with a TCPA lawyer.