SMS Prohibited Content


SMS Prohibited Content

The following message categories are prohibited for SMS and MMS:

  • High-risk financial services
  • Third-party lead generation
  • Debt collection and forgiveness
  • “Get rich quick” schemes or Multi-level marketing
  • Illegal substances
  • Gambling
  • Sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, and tobacco (SHAFT)

Below, these categories are expanded upon in more detail:

 

Category Examples Notes
High-risk financial services
  • Payday loans
  • Short term high-interest loans
  • Third-party auto loans
  • Third-party mortgage loans
  • Student loans
  • Cryptocurrency

“Third-party” means originating from any party other than the one which will service the loan.

SMS messages featuring financial investment advice or tips, as well as information on loans and refinancing options, are prohibited. Carriers also prohibit messages with links to donation sites.

Legitimate financial institutions may use SMS in accordance with certain restrictions, and often leverage text alerts for suspicious card activity, appointment reminders, and other transactional messages.

Third-party lead generation services
  • Companies that buy, sell, or share consumer information.

Buying, selling, or sharing of consumer data is strictly prohibited. The business that obtained consent is the only business authorized to send SMS. 

“Cold” outreach is the solicitation of business from potential customers who have had no prior contact with the business and is strictly prohibited.

Debt collection or forgiveness
  • Third-party debt collection
  • Debt consolidation
  • Debt reduction
  • Credit repair programs

Almost all debt consolidation and forgiveness efforts are prohibited for SMS and MMS.

Regarding debt collection, the business owed the debt can send payment reminders to late payers, personalized messages with account details, and follow up on payment confirmations. However, a third party cannot attempt to collect the debt for you via SMS and MMS.

"Get rich quick” schemes or Multi-level marketing
  • Work-from-home programs
  • Risk investment opportunities
  • “Get rich quick," "build your wealth," and "financial independence" offerings
  • Multi-level marketing, network marketing and pyramid schemes

Multi-level marketing (MLM) products, services, or content commonly associated with unsolicited commercial messages (spam) are prohibited.

This is different from outreach about employment as a result of compliant opt-in practices, messages from brokerages to their members, investment news alerts, or other investment-related messages.

Illegal substances
  • Marijuana/Cannabis
  • CBD/THC
  • Prescription drugs
  • Vaping
Cannabis is federally illegal in the United States. Cannabis businesses will not be permitted to use SMS/MMS messaging in the US, regardless of message content.
CBD is federally legal, but is not legal in some US states, so US carriers do not permit messaging related to CBD.
Offers for drugs that cannot be sold over-the-counter in the US/Canada are forbidden.
Gambling
  • Casino apps
  • Gambling websites
While gambling traffic is prohibited on Toll Free, it is allowed on Short Code, or Long Code, as long as proper age gating procedures are in place.
"S.H.A.F.T." use cases
  • Sex
  • Hate
  • Alcohol **
  • Firearms **
  • Tobacco *

* While Tobacco traffic is prohibited on Toll Free, it is allowed on Short Code, or Long Code (10DLC), as long as proper age gating procedures are in place.

** Firearms and Alcohol traffic is allowed on Toll Free, Short Code, and Long Code (10DLC), as long as proper age gating procedures are in place.

Vaping-related traffic is prohibited.

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