SMS Compliance: How Carrier Regulations Affect You

The SMS software market’s growth hit 18.75% in 2022. The widespread adoption of smartphones lets customers purchase items directly through their mobile phones and communicate with the brands they love.

Given this trend, the federal government understands the importance of SMS marketing oversight to protect customers and their privacy. Customers also expect mobile phone carriers to do their part to stop harmful or unwanted text messages. For this reason, each mobile carrier possesses internal regulations for SMS compliance.

Learn about SMS compliance before you add SMS text messaging to your marketing strategy.

Why SMS compliance matters 

Nobody wants unwanted text marketing messages on their mobile devices. Unsolicited messages feel like a violation of your privacy and leave people wondering who knows their phone number and why.

SMS compliance matters for two reasons. It helps you avoid upsetting current and prospective customers. And it helps you comply with the law, so your SMS marketing messages go through. 

After all, it takes money, time, and energy to acquire new contacts. You don’t want to lose precious customers due to compliance problems. 

If you forget about SMS compliance, carriers may flag your messages as spam. Plus, customers themselves may report messages

Who controls SMS regulations?

The FCC and cellular carriers control SMS regulations.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sets guidelines, regulations, and compliance requirements for SMS text messaging. The CAN-SPAM Act requires the FCC to create rules and regulations regarding SMS text messaging and commercial email. Federal laws like these impact the way businesses communicate with customers.

While they follow laws and regulations regarding SMS compliance, cellular providers also establish their own internal regulations. Each cell carrier creates its own set of rules. Two critical aspects of these regulations may impact you: age-gating and S.H.A.F.T.

SMS text message content regulations 

Make sure your SMS content complies with acceptability standards from a subject matter standpoint and matches the age of your audience. 

Read more about these content compliance issues that affect your content.


Age-gating ensures underage people view only age-appropriate content. You may see this on websites, such as websites that house content that requires the viewer’s age verification.

The CTIA requires age-gating in some industries. Age-gated content requires opt-in and a prompt for a birth date entry.


SHAFT stands for Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco. When you send any content related to these areas, it may earn you a CTIA violation.

SMS text message frequency regulations 

Don’t send SMS text messages too frequently to your subscriber list. If customers opt-in, they want your texts. However, they may not want your messages on the daily.

No set standard exists for the appropriate frequency in SMS marketing. It depends on the industry. Overall, try to mimic your customer’s behavior with your SMS frequency. 

For example, if you run a largely seasonal business, perhaps ramp up text message frequency before and during your busiest season.

When your customer initially provides an opt-in, communicate the frequency of your texts. If you partner with the right SMS platform, such as TextSanity, we can help you with these details.

The most crucial SMS regulations

The list below serves as a guide to some general regulations that merit consideration. It serves exclusively informational purposes rather than constituting legal advice.


When a customer gives a business or organization permission to send recurring text messages for SMS marketing, they opt-in for text messages. This includes transactional marketing messages like appointment reminders.

Once your subscriber opts in, send a confirmation message as your first text. Strategically write content as a welcome message, but you confirm the user consensually receives your text messages.

Double opt-in

Some businesses require a double opt-in. Double opt-in provides a double layer of protection against spammers.

You may increase your subscribers with a webform for a convenient opt-in. In addition, utilize templates to streamline your efforts and scale your SMS marketing content strategy.


When a customer no longer wishes for SMS text messages from you, they may opt-out at any time. 

You must provide clear opt-out instructions. Whatever you do, ensure the platform you use automatically cancels any further contact including any scheduled SMS text messages. Of course, a subscriber may also opt back in.  

Take opt-out requests seriously. If you continue to send messages, you are out of compliance. Plus, you are in danger of falling out of good standing with the carriers who you depend on to send messages to customers. With a good SMS platform like TextSanity, the software handles unsubscribes, similar to unsubscribe features in email software.

CTA (Call-to-action)

When you create SMS marketing campaigns, remember your call-to-action (CTA) may include anything that encourages the user’s action. Take a “click here to learn more” button as an example.

Under SMS marketing regulations, the CTA must incorporate important information. This includes the projected frequency of texts, basic terms and conditions, the reason for your texts, the privacy policy, and applicable data rates.

Above all, the CTA must clearly communicate to users what to expect when they opt-in.

What does TCPA mean?

TCPA stands for the Telephone Customer Protection Act, a federal regulatory agency providing oversight and protection for telecommunications. This includes SMS text messaging, voicemail, and fax transmissions.

How TCPA may affect you 

If you violate TCPA regulations, it may incur consequences. The TCPA affects you because it ensures customers maintain their rights and privacy concerning SMS text messages.

Common TCPA violations and fees 

Three main types of violations of TCPA exist: violating the Do Not Call Registry, unsolicited pre-recorded calls to a cell phone or landline, and unsolicited texts to mobile phones. 

Possible consequences for a TCPA violation 

Violations of TCPA laws affect your business. Fines range from $500 to $1500 for each violation. 

For example, if a customer files a complaint with adequate documentation about a business pertaining to the Do Not Call Registry, each violation comes with a $500 fee.

10DLC rule changes 

10DLC stands for 10-digit long code. The carriers now require businesses that send mass text notifications to register their 10DLC number. You’ll be required to answer a few questions before you can send messages using your number. These include validating who you are and examples of your messaging.

How do 10DLC rule changes affect you? 

You may encounter filtering, deliverability issues, and even no deliverability of messages if you skip registration for 10DLC numbers. TextSanity makes the registration process easy! When you sign up for an account associated with a 10DLC, the registration is part of the process. 

How TextSanity helps

SMS text messaging possesses one of the highest response rates of any marketing channel, but before you add SMS messaging to your marketing strategy, you must understand SMS compliance.

Now you know how SMS compliance may affect you and your SMS marketing campaigns. A clear understanding of the governing bodies overseeing text message compliance helps you navigate this area confidently. Remember the requirements of SMS messaging and use best practices for future SMS marketing campaigns.

TextSanity helps you find the right pricing plans for your objectives and guides you through setting up your SMS text campaigns.

What next?

Text CONTACT to 50505 to ask any lingering compliance questions or DEMO to 50505 to schedule a quick, customized demo for your business. Start growing your business as you build stronger relationships with your audience.