SMS regulations, laws, and abuse prevention

SMS messages are one of the most direct ways to reach customers and users because they go straight to the user's phone. Because of this, there should be regulations that stop brands from abusing or overusing this relationship. If they don't follow these rules, they could be fined thousands of dollars by local regulators.

Warning: This material is not intended to provide legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. SMS usage is governed by specific legal restrictions. To guarantee that your use of the SMS Services complies with all applicable legislation, you should consult with an attorney.

In general, we suggest that you use your best judgment when sending SMS. SMS Connexion and our sending partners have safeguards in place to prevent the majority of SMS abuse.

The six rules for proper compliance

  1. Before sending SMS to a user, obtain their explicit permission. When users give you permission, it's your job to record, update, and keep that information in a user database that follows the rules.

    According to fundamental legal rules, the most crucial consent-related information you must store is:

    • The time and date the user gave consent
    • What kind of SMS messages they agreed to receive
    • The phone number of the user
    • The language in which the user agreed
  2. Make it clear what kind of SMS you'll be sending. Users should know what kinds of information or offers they can expect to get from your brand through this channel. Clearly communicate what your future campaigns are for and how often they will receive messages.

  3. Keep important information up-to-date and easy to find. Make sure that the most up-to-date version of your company's Terms and Conditions and your SMS Marketing Privacy Policy can be easily seen and accessed from your SMS opt-in page.

  4. Only send SMS to phone numbers you've gotten legally and that have given you permission to do so.

  5. Make sure that SHAFT (Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco) is abided in the US and anywhere else that applies. In the US and some other places, it is usually against the law to send SMS messages that talk about sex, hate, alcohol, guns, and tobacco (SHAFT).

  6. Check everything twice. Consult with your company's legal department to ensure that your SMS campaign complies with all local laws and regulations

Compliance considerations

Data and privacy

The privacy of a customer is important for a relationship to be meaningful and respectful. Respecting a customer's privacy and personal information is just one more way to get them to like your brand. When it comes to marketing tools, personal information and confidentiality aren't always given the same priority.

SMS Connexion adheres to a number of security laws, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The CTIA, which is a trade group for the U.S. wireless communications industry, suggests that you keep and show a privacy policy that is clear and easy to understand.


For SMS campaigns to be successful, opt-in, help, and opt-out features are required.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) tells that a business must get "express written consent" from a customer before sending them a SMS message. This can be done on the web or on a mobile device, among other ways. You must inform the customer exactly how you intend to communicate with them via SMS.

Don't forget to follow the rules of the National Do Not Call Registry.

SMS Connexion organizes your contacts into groups. When you create a new group, the SMS Connexion Platform provides a web form subscription (opt-in) link to that group. By doing this, you can be sure that you follow the opt-in mechanism and get users' permission.

Frequency and spam

Like with email, your users or customers can get "inbox burnout." But this isn't the only reason why you shouldn't message your customers all the time. To make sure you are following the law (in the U.S.), you should look at Section 5 of the FTC Act.

General SMS capabilities (long and short code sending limits) and SMS Connexion's rate limits are designed with anti-spam in mind. Still, you should prepare your campaigns with compliance laws in mind.


This isn't always easy, but if you're not sure, don't talk about violence, sex, drugs, tobacco, or other stuff like that. Be careful about sending messages about these things, because you may still be charged for SMS messages that some carriers block/reject.

The CTIA recommends that you follow SHAFT Compliance, which says that the following things are usually "illegal" when messaging in the U.S.:

  • Sex
  • Hate
  • Alcohol
  • Firearms
  • Tobacco

Here is more information about the CTIA's Messaging Principles and Best Practices.


Make sure you're not sending messages too late at night (see the regulation's text for specific hours) by following the requirements of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). But you shouldn't send messages that late anyway, if you want high engagement rate.


The majority of these best practices are consistent with American regulations. If you are targeting customers outside of U.S. regions, you should investigate local best practices and laws. It is always best practice to comply with the strictest standards, which are often enforced in the United States, Canada, and European Union member states.

Was this page helpful?