Yahoo Should Have Called RealValidation First
It’s no secret that most Americans today have a smartphone. The smartphone, unlike cellular phones of the past, also has the ability to receive text messages, adding another potential communication channel for companies to reach their target audience.
“Tanning Special: 50% off this weekend only.”
“Two for one discount at local movie theater. Use code 2FOR1 when purchasing tickets.”
These are all examples of text messages that users around the country might receive on their smartphone on any given day.
While many users have signed up for a promotion that allows a company to send them special offers, messages, and updated via text, other companies have purchased data lists and sent unsolicited text messages to customers without their prior consent- a violation of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). One major international company, Yahoo, has found itself in hot water for potentially sending such messages.
Yahoo is now facing a class action lawsuit in Illinois based on such text messages. The lawsuit, which could potentially involve more than 500,000 customers, claims that the Yahoo message violated the TCPA, which protects cellphone customers from receiving unsolicited advertising.
The suit specifically claims “Yahoo violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by sending Sprint cellphone users unsolicited text messages.” If Yahoo is found guilty of engaging in willful violation of the TCPA, they could face up to $1,500 in damages per message sent.
Whether or not the case is dismissed or Yahoo settles out of court, the case has brought to light an important issue in telecommunications- especially with regard to marketing and sales.
In the past, the TCPA regulations addressed automated and live sales calls, but in recent years, the laws have been updated to include text messages. According to legal group Klein, Moynihan, and Turco, “The TCPA applies to both voice and short message service (SMS) text messages, if they are transmitted for marketing purposes. The TCPA has been interpreted in recent years to prohibit the sending of unsolicited commercial text messages to cell phones – with limited exceptions (i.e., messages sent for emergency purposes).”
Yahoo could have avoided the majority of their troubles if they had taken the time to ensure that their data was in compliance with do not call lists and that users had specifically opt in to receive such messages.
At Real Validation, we make compliance with TCPA a priority for your business. Regular compliance updates are a critical part of your data management since the Established Business Relationship exemption for pre-recorded telemarketing calls to residential landlines is eliminated, requiring companies to obtain express written consent from their customers in order to receive pre-recorded or auto-dialed telemarketing messages.
Perhaps next time, Yahoo should take the time to ensure that they are only using clean data. It could save them millions.
If your business depends on outgoing phone calls – Call RealValidation first!