One bad apple spoils the whole bunch. How often have you heard this statement? A recent individual who sent out text marketing messages to thousands of people without having their prior consent is proving that, in fact, one bad apple doe spoil the whole bunch.
The Federal trade Commission (FTC) filed lawsuit in federal court to shut down a company that sent unsolicited text messages to these people, with many of them advertising the website Loanmodgov.net.
This isn’t a lone case. The instances of illegal text marketing is on the rise. Most of the time it is a company being unaware of the regulations in place regarding messaging of customers, or because those rules were not taken serious like they should have been.
This particular case, however is much different than what you have seen in the pats. This case alleges that the company was actually an unlawful company in itself. This case proves that getting consumer consent before sending out a business message is a must, but it also takes things one step further and also proves that the content that the company is sending is just as important.
In the lawsuit, Phillip A. Flora is alleged to have sent out text messages to millions of people advertising this website and their loan modification services and debt relief. In just a time period of 40 days it is said that Mr. Flora spammed more than 5.5 million people. This equals out to about 75 text messages every single minute of the day for this specified time period. Even the FTC admits this is a mind boggling number.
Four counts have been brought against Mr. Flora. Those counts attest that the unsolicited messages that were sent out caused monetary damages, since many customers pay on a per message basis. The second claims that because the website that Mr. Flora was advertising used “.gov” in the URL along with a flag on the home page, that misrepresentation of affiliation with a government entity was conducted. The third count alleges that there was no way for these consumers to opt-out of the messages they were receive, a violation of the CAN SPAM act. The final count is based upon the fact that a valid physical address was not included in the emails, another CAN SPAM violation.
The lawsuit claims that Mr. Flora collected information from all who responded tp the message and then sold their contact information to other marketers, claiming they were leads. Verizon Wireless , CTIA and AT&T all worked with the FTC to help recover the messages.
The case is shocking for most, to say the least.
Whatever may be ruled in this case, it is sure to impact even legitimate and trustworthy businesses who are offering their customers legitimate services.
For businesses who want to stay on the straight and narrow, understanding the rules of text marketing is essential. What are those rules?
First, make sure that you ALWAYS ask a consumer to opt-in before any message is sent to them. Advance permission is something that any marketer must have in place to protect themselves.