CAN-SPAM – What You Need to Know

If you or your company send emails for business then save yourself the hassle and headache of fines of up to $16,000 per email and read this. If you have ever unsubscribed from an unwanted email newsletter, advertisement or solicitation, you owe the luxury to do so to the CAN-SPAM Act. Passed in (2003), the CAN-SPAM Act is "A law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them and spells out thought penalties for violations." 1.

Emails consist of 3 types of information:

1. Commercial - Advertises products or services.
2. Relationship & Transnational - Business to business, business to consumer and ongoing already agreed upon transactions such as invoices or receipts.
3. Other - Neither commercial or relationship or transnational.

CAM-SPAM applies to commercial & transnational or relationship emails. So how do you know if your emails fall into the category of commercial and relationship or transnational? An email is commercial if its primary purpose, identified in the subject line and first paragraph of email, is the promotion or advertisement of a commercial product or service. An email is transnational or relationship if it only consists of content that:

- Facilitates or confirms a commercial transaction that the recipient has already agreed to.
- Gives warranty, recall, safety or security information about a product or service.
- Gives information about a change in terms or features or account balance information regarding a membership, subscription, account, loans or other ongoing commercial relationship.
- Delivers goods or services as part of a transaction that the recipient has already agreed to.

The following requirements apply to ALL commercial emails; however, only the first rule applies to relationship or transnational emails:

1. Don't use false or misleading header information. "From" "To" "Reply to" and routing information including the originating domain name and email address must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
2. Don't use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
3. Identify the message as an advertisement. The law gives you a lot of leeway how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
4. Tell recipients where you are located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, USPS P.O. Box or a private mailbox you have registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
5. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that is easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read and understand. Creative use of type size, color and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy internet based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter does not block these opt-out requests.

6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out request mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient's opt-out request within 10 business days. You can't charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet site as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don't want to receive more messages from you, you can't sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list.
7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can't contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.2.

Following these rules can help keep you compliant with CAN-SPAM and save you money and time in the long run. Need more information? Visit www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business

 

 

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