SMS Messaging Compliance: Principles & Best Practices
    • 28 Dec 2023
    • 5 Minutes to read
    • Dark
    • PDF

    SMS Messaging Compliance: Principles & Best Practices

    • Dark
    • PDF

    Article summary

    Texting has become an important tool for professional communication, but as regulations increase, it's crucial to understand the legal requirements and best practices. Terms like A2P, 10DLC, TCPA, FCC, and CTIA are important to know in this context. To ensure successful messaging campaigns, businesses should obtain consumer consent, provide clear opt-in confirmation for recurring messages, identify themselves as senders, include clear calls to action, and offer easy opt-out mechanisms. High opt-out rates may lead to campaign monitoring or service suspension. Messaging content must adhere to acceptable use policies and avoid prohibited content such as deceptive marketing or illegal activities. Examples of prohibited messaging campaigns include those related to loans, debt settlement, and misleading offers.

    Once considered informal, texting is now one of the best ways to communicate professionally. Yet, as business SMS volumes increase, so do regulations, and if you’re using SMS for business, you want to ensure your message gets through. Paying attention to the legal requirements and industry best practices will help avoid issues and build customer trust.

    Let's dive into the details, starting with important terminology.

    Terms to know

    A2P 10DLC: Application-to-Person messaging with local US phone numbers (10 digit local codes). The CTIA expanded A2P from application or automated messaging to all business/cloud communications in 2019.

    Consumer vs Non-Consumer: The messaging industry identifies wireless or mobile numbers not used for business or commercial purposes as Consumer usage. All messaging through cloud communication providers like Dialpad is considered non-consumer messaging and is subject to A2P 10DLC requirements.

    Campaign: The motivation or purpose for messaging any Consumer.

    TCPA: The Telephone Consumer Protection Act

    FCC: The Federal Communications Commission - an independent agency of the United States federal government that regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable across the United States 

    CTIA: Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association - a trade association representing the wireless communications industry in the United States

    Best practice checklist

    Our goal is to set you up for success! Be sure to read through our handy SMS and MMS Best Practice checklist below.

    • The recipients have provided consent (opted-in) ✅
    • The message clearly identifies the sender
    • A clear call to action describing the purpose and impact of the action
    • The message content has been verified and does not contain restricted use-cases
    • Your Dialpad Admin registered the messaging campaign


    When you "Opt-In", you're giving permission for someone, or a company to send you text messages. 

    To maintain consumer confidence in messaging services, non-consumer (A2P) message senders should be sure to do the following:

    • Obtain a consumer’s consent to receive messages
    • Obtain a consumer’s express written consent receive marketing messages
    • Ensure consumers can revoke consent

    Consent varies depending on the type of message.

    The following table demonstrates the different types of messaging content and the associated consent required.


    Individual service providers may adopt additional consumer protection measures for non-consumer (A2P) message senders, which may include, for example, campaign pre-approval, service provider vetting, in-market audits, or unwanted message filtering practices which are tailored to facilitate the exchange of wanted messaging traffic.

    A consumer opt-in to receive messages should not be transferable or assignable.

    A consumer opt-in should apply only to the campaign(s) and specific message sender for which it was intended or obtained.

    Opt-in confirmation for recurring messages

    It's important to note that the opt-in parameters for recurring messages are different than that of one-time messages. If you find yourself sending recurring messaging campaigns, you, as the sender, should provide consumers with a confirmation message to clearly inform the consumer they are enrolled in a recurring message campaign. You will also need to provide a clear and conspicuous description of how to opt-out.

    After the message sender has confirmed that a consumer has opted-in, the message sender should send the consumer an opt-in confirmation message before any additional messaging is sent. The confirmation message should include:

    1. The program name or product description
    2. Customer care contact information (e.g., a toll-free number, 10-digit phone number, or help command instructions)
    3. How to opt-out
    4. A disclosure that the messages are recurring and the frequency of the messaging; and
    5. Clear and conspicuous language about any associated fees or charges and how those charges will be billed.
    To learn more about the opting in and out process from the recipient's point of view, have a read through this Help Center article.

    Identifying yourself as the sender

    Each time you send a message, you must identify yourself (the party that obtained the opt-in from the recipient) as the sender, except in follow-up messages of an ongoing conversation.

    Clear calls-to-action

    A “call-to-action” is an invitation to a consumer to opt-in to a messaging campaign. It ensures the consumer consents to receive the message, and understands the intent.

    A call-to-action can be short and sweet and should inform the consumer of the following

    1. The program or product description.
    2. The phone number(s) or short code(s) from which messaging will originate.
    3. The specific identity of the organization, or individual, represented in the initial message.
    4. Clear and conspicuous language about the opt-in and any associated fees or charges.
    5. Any other applicable terms and conditions (e.g., how to opt-out, customer care contact information and any applicable privacy policy).

    Calls-to-action and subsequent messaging should not contain deceptive language, and opt-in details should not be obscured in terms and conditions (especially related to other services).

    Consumer opt-out

    Opt-out mechanisms allow the customer to terminate messaging communications.


    Message senders should acknowledge and respect the consumers’ opt-out requests consistent with the following guidelines:

    • Ensure consumers can opt-out of receiving messages at any time.
      • Provide clear details opt-out instructions.
    • Support multiple opt-out mechanisms, including phone calls, emails or texts.
    • Acknowledge and honor all consumer opt-out requests by sending one final opt-out confirmation. 
      • No further messages should be sent following the opt-out confirmation message.
    Standardized “STOP” wording should be used for opt-out instructions. However, opt-out requests with normal language should also be actioned, except where a specific word can result in an unintentional opt-out. The validity of a consumer opt-out should not be impacted by any variations in the consumer opt-out response, such as capitalization, punctuation, or any letter-case sensitivities.

    High opt-out rate

    Message senders who receive high volumes of opt-outs could be flagged and indicative of poor sending practices. In the case that the daily opt-out rate is 5% or higher, other carriers may monitor the campaign and may reach out for campaign and opt-in details. Either Dialpad or a carrier partner may suspend services of high opt-out rate flagged campaigns at its discretion.

    Messaging content rules

    Dialpad’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) restricts the following types of content in sent messages:

    1. Is unlawful, harmful, abusive, malicious, misleading, harassing, violent, obscene/illicit or
    2. Is defamatory
    3. Is deceptive (e.g., phishing messages intended to access private or confidential information), including deceptive links
    4. Invades privacy
    5. Causes safety concerns
    6. Incites harm, discrimination, hate, or violence
    7. Intended to intimidate
    8. Includes malware
    9. Threatens consumers
    10. Does not meet age-gating requirements

    Dialpad also enforces the following restricted messaging use-cases:

    • Third-party lead generation
    • Social Marketing
    • Collections
    • High-risk financial services
    • Car/Health Insurance
    • Gambling
    • Gift Cards
    • Sweepstakes
    • Free prizes
    • Investment Opportunities
    • Recruiting
    • Commission programs
    • Credit Repair
    • Tax Relief
    • Illegal substances
    • Get rich quick schemes
    • Phishing
    • Fraud or scams
    • Deceptive marketing
    • SHAFT (Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco)

    Examples of prohibited messaging campaigns

    "Savings Alert from [COMPANY]: We found a new program that can protect you from costly auto repairs. It's quick and easy to see if you qualify. [LINK]"

    "Lending Alert from [COMPANY]: Your first offer! Great loan options may be available to you. It's quick and easy to learn more. Click for details. [LINK]"

    "Need help settling your payday debt? [LINK] or call [NUMBER] to speak with an agent. Text STOP to optout."

    "Thanks for being loyal. You can check for approval today. Login to see how much. We won't send until you okay it. [LINK]. Reply STOP to optout."

    Was this article helpful?