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How the TCPA Applies to Unwanted Emails and Text Messages

Adam J Krohn / Posted: 2014-01-30 11:52 am

Unwanted text messages and emails can be very annoying. These unwanted texts to mobile phones and other mobile devices can be intrusive and costly to the recipient. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) addresses problem of text message spam.

Under the TCPA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules, many of the text messages that are sent to a mobile phone using an auto dialer are banned. There are two exceptions to this ban: (1) the consumer previously gave consent to receive messages or (2) the message is being sent for emergency purposes. Even if a consumer has not placed their mobile phone number on the national Do-Not-Call list, the ban still applies.

Another act supplements the protections provided to consumers under the TCPA. This act is called the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act. This law bans unwanted email messages (some email messages can appear as text messages on a mobile phone if they are addressed a certain way) sent to a consumers mobile phone provided that they are considered “commercial messages.”

Under CAN-SPAM, commercial messages are defined as those with the primary purpose of advertising or promoting a commercial product or service. This FCC ban does not apply to messages that are “transactional or relationship” (messages meant to facilitate a transaction that has already been agreed to by the consumer). In addition, the ban does not cover messages that are non-commercial. Such messages include those about candidates for public office or email messages that a consumer has forwarded from their computer.

When a commercial email is sent to a consumer’s mobile phone, federal rules require:

  • Identification (the email must clearly identify that it is a solicitation or advertisement for services or products)
  • Opt-out (there must be an easily-accessible, legitimate, and free way for a consumer to reject any future messages from the sender)
  • Return Address (there must be a legitimate return email address contained in the email as well as a postal address for the sender)


If a consumer has previously agreed to receive texts and commercial email messages, then such messages can be sent to a consumer’s mobile phone. To receive commercial texts, the consumers consent must be in writing. If the texts are non-commercial, informational texts then consent only needs to be oral.

With regards to commercial email, a consumer’s consent can be either oral or written. The sender of the email must provide the consumer with the name of the entity that will be sending the messages and the name of the entity that is advertising products or services (if different). After a consumer has provided permission to receive commercial emails, all the emails must allow you to revoke authorization, or “opt out” of receiving messages in the future.

Stopping Unwanted Texts

In order to reduce the number of unwanted texts they receive, the FCC has some suggestions for consumers. These suggestions include.

  • Consumers should be careful when it comes to providing their mobile phone number, email address, or other types of personal information
  • Opt out of receiving emails by unchecking preselected boxes on websites
  • Check the privacy policy prior to submitting a wireless phone number or email address to a website
  • If texts or emails are unwanted or from a questionable source, do not respond
  • Consumers can check with their mobile phone service provider about their options when it comes to blocking future text messages from specific senders

In last week’s post, we provided an overview of some of the most important provisions of the TCPA. To view this helpful resource, please visit this webpage by clicking here. The Krohn and Moss Consumer Law Center also has provided many helpful resources regarding the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and how debt collectors should act. For more information, click here to learn more about this act and how we can help you defeat aggressive debt collectors.

Our experienced attorneys here at Krohn and Moss Consumer Law Center have also provided many helpful resources regarding the TCPA and the FDCPA and how telephone debt collectors should act. We have been successfully representing those abused and taken advantage of by debt collectors for years, and have a long list of successful stories to share with you. We offer a FREE CASE REVIEW for you to assess whether we can assist you with your matter. Please do not hesitate to contact us toll free at 1-800-875-3666 or visit our website at

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