In the United States, a series of laws and regulations were passed in 2019 and 2020 to make telecommunications and, more importantly, messaging over SMS more secure and trusted. To do this the Mobile Network Operators (MNO), Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc., have come together to create a central place to store data on who is using their networks and for what purpose. This effort has created an organization that is known as the Campaign Registry.
Following suit, ZipWhip, a subsidiary of Twilio, Inc, and the company that manages all text messaging traffic sent over Toll-Free Numbers, has also put together a database to collect information on the companies sending text messages over its managed network.
The goal of these companies is to create databases of businesses sending text messages so that the MNOs can verify that messages being sent to their users are coming from trusted business sources, and not spam or bots. These databases will include identifying information for the businesses sending messages so that, if there are any issues, the MNOs, the Campaign Registry, and ZipWhip know who to reach out to.
To create the databases, the Campaign Registry and Zipwhip are working with internet-based telecommunication providers, known as communication service providers (CSP), to help set up protocols on how their users can be registered. The CSPs then pass the info to approve the use case. Once approved (often instant), the company and its phone numbers are entered into the database with id numbers. These numbers are then attached to all outbound communication so that the receiving MNOs can check it on their end and let the message through.
Why do I have to register? You have to register to verify your business and the messages you are sending. This is how the MNOs can verify that your phone number(s) and the messages being sent by it are legitimate. With a verified business, you can send messages across their networks with improved deliverability and at faster speeds.
By registering your company and phone numbers, you will greatly increase the likelihood that your customers will get your message. In 2019 and 2020, the MNOs stepped up their filtering of suspected spam and fraud messages. This meant that a message you sent may have come back with a Carrier Violation error. However, they also began "silently" blocking messages by not responding with an error and so you may never have known that your customer did not get your message without directly asking them. The idea then is that by registering your company and your phone numbers, your messages will then be pre-verified and will reach your customers.
There is also another side effect in that carriers will allow registered users to send messages faster. Right now, you can only send 1 SMS segment (160 character messages) every second over normal, 10-digit phone numbers or 3 SMS segments every second over Toll-Free Numbers. This means long messages or announcements to many customers may take a while to send. Registered and approved use cases will also be granted higher messaging rates. The exact rate will vary depending on your use case, but speeds can increase up to 30 segments per second.
Ok, how do I register?
To start, we will need information about your organization and each department (phone number) on Textline.
The first level of the required information is about who is messaging:
Legal Company Name
“Doing Business As” (DBA) or Brand Name, if different from legal name
Country of Registration
What type of legal form is the organization?
Charity / Non-Profit Organization
Stock Symbol (required if a publicly-traded company)
Support Contact First & Last Name
Support Phone Number
You can fill out this information in Textline here.
Next, we need the following information about each of the Departments communicating over SMS on Textline:
Message content and attributes
You can fill out this information for each department in Textline here.
Your use case is what you are using that department for. This lets the MNOs know what type of messaging to expect. Here’s a sample list of the use cases that you can select from, the use case options will be different for those using Toll-Free Numbers:
2FA: Any authentication, verification, or one-time passcode that is used for logins.
Account Notifications: Standard notifications for account holders and team members.
Customer Care: All customer interaction, including account management and customer support.
Delivery Notifications: Information about the status of the delivery of a product or service.
Fraud Alert Messaging: Messaging regarding potential fraudulent activity on an account.
Higher Education: Messages sent on behalf of colleges, universities, school districts, and other educational institutions.
Marketing: Any communication with marketing and/or promotional content. This includes sales and special offers.
Polling and voting: Requests for surveys and voting for non-political arenas.
Public Service Announcement: An informational message that is meant to raise the audience's awareness about an important issue.
Security Alert: A notification that the security of a system, either software or hardware, has been compromised in some way and there is an action you may need to take.
Charity: Communications from a registered charity aimed at providing help and raising money for those in need. Includes 501(c)(3) registered charities, but NOT religious organizations.
Emergency: Notification services designed to support public safety/health during natural disasters, armed conflicts, pandemics, and other national or regional emergencies.
Agents and Franchises: Campaigns that have many phone numbers for their different agents, locations, offices, or branches with the same use case. Restricted access, reach out to [email protected] for more info.
Political: Part of an organized effort to influence the decision-making of specific groups. Only federal campaigns.
Campaign Content & Attributes
To help comply with regulations, we will also need to know if there are certain scenarios that your messaging may surround.
For 10-digit long code (normal) phone numbers, these scenarios include:
Contact Opt-In: Indicates whether you are collecting and processing consumer opt-ins. This is required.
Contact Opt-Out: Indicates whether you are allowing customers to opt-out of messages and preventing you from messaging them in the future. This is required and is a feature of Textline.
Contact Help: Indicates whether you have implemented message reply providing customers on how they can contact the message sender after they reply with the “HELP” keyword. This is required and is a feature of Textline.
Embedded Link: Messages include links of any kind. Public URL shorteners (bitly, tinurl) are not allowed.
Embedded Phone Number: Messages include phone numbers.
Direct Lending or Loan: Check if you will be sending messages related to direct lending or other loan arrangements.
Age-Gated Content: Check if you will be sending messages that require any age-gated content as defined by Carrier and CTIA guidelines. This is required for messages related to alcohol, smoking, firearms, or anything sexual in nature.
For businesses using Toll-Free Numbers, the messaging attributes are:
Sending Any Messages to Canada: Are you sending any text messages to Canada? Do you operate a business in Canada or you are in the United States but chat with Canadian tourists? If yes, check this box.
Primarily Sending Messages to Canada: If the majority of your messages will be going to contacts with Canadian phone numbers, you will want to select this. Most likely your business is located in Canada or you are focusing on Canadian contacts.
Advertising or Promotion: Are you using your Toll-Free Number to send advertisements or promotional marketing, check this box.
To make sure that your use case is what you say it is, we also ask for example messages or message templates that you would be sending. Even if you do not expect to have standard messages, try coming up with a few of your most common scenarios. To help you formulate these messages, we have a few examples of our own, based on a few of the use cases above:
Hi Brad, your account has an overdue balance. Please text us back so that we can set up a payment plan. Reply STOP to opt-out of SMS reminders.
Hi Thomas, The office will be closed tomorrow for a deep cleaning. Sorry for the late notice. Your appointment will need to be rescheduled. Text us back at your earliest convenience.
Hi Ryan, Thanks for the explanation. Can you please try clearing the cookies in your browser? If you don’t know how to do that, let me know what browser you are using, and I can send over a guide.
Sorry to hear your order was damaged. Can you send us a photo so that we can verify the damage and send a replacement?
Shirley, we’ve hit a little bump, and there’s a delay in your order. We will keep you updated and let you know once it’s back on track. You can opt out of SMS notifications by texting back STOP
Congratulations Laura, your shipment has been delivered! Please try on your items and text us back if there are any problems. Reply STOP to opt-out of SMS communication.
Hi Jim, we are excited to let you know we are having a clearance tomorrow on widgets! Come in any time between 10 am and 6 pm to stock on up. Reply STOP to opt-out.
We just got a new shipment of thing-a-ma-bobs! Order them on our website while they’re in stock. Reply STOP to opt-out.
The last bit of info required is about how you got explicit permission to text your contacts, even if they are employees or long-time customers. MNOs have specific guidelines on displaying a clear request to opt-in with appropriate disclosures to the purpose of the text messages the contacts will receive. An opt-in message should include
Name of organization or business
What you will be messaging them about (reminders, promotions, updates, etc)
The frequency of the messages ("4 messages per month", "Message frequency varies", "1 message per login", etc.)
Disclaimer that message and data rates may apply
Customer care information (typically " for help, text HELP at XXX-XXX-XXXX or email [email protected])
Opt-out instructions (typically "Text STOP to no longer receive messages")
These opt-in details should not be obscured in your terms and conditions (especially terms related to other services). This could mean separating a consent check box just for receiving text messages. Please note the checkbox can not be pre-selected. The checkbox provides the contact's ability to agree or not agree to receive SMS messaging.
You also must report your company process to obtain consent and validate with images and references to links (if applicable).
This refers to how contacts express their consent to receive text messages. Please select the opt-in type out of the following methods:
Verbal: Your contacts provide opt-in verbally i.e., via the phone or in person. Tip: If you collect consent verbally, you will want to have a tracking system of when they provided consent and how.
Web Form: Your contacts provide opt-in for text messaging when they fill out a form on your website. Tip: You should have a check box with a opt-in message, allowing for your contacts to opt out of receiving texts from your business
Paper Form: Your contacts provide opt-in for text messaging when they fill out a physical paper form. Tip: The form should include an explicit opt in message.
Via text: Your contacts initiate a text message exchange by texting the business first. *Tip: make sure to include sms disclaimers where ever you are encouraging contacts to text or include them in your first reply to their message.
Mobile QR code: Your contacts opt-in by scanning a mobile QR code. *Tip include sms disclaimers under the QR code or include them in your first reply to their message.
Opt- In Description
Referencing your opt-in type, in detail, describe your company process for obtaining consent or how your contacts confirm they opt-in to receiving text messages. Reference links to specific pages on your website, sample contracts, spreadsheets, or screenshots that may help better describe how your business has consented to message contacts. You will have space to upload those documents in the next step.
Here is an example:
Our customers enter their phone numbers on a tablet at the cash register. After entering their phone numbers, they check a box on the screen to opt into text messages from our team about monthly stock updates and any sales we may have. The opt-in message next to the box they check is as follows:
You must also upload an image of your opt-in practice. This information will verify your opt-in description.
Once you have completed the registration process, Textline will submit the details so that your company and your phone numbers can be verified by the MNOs. Please note that the vetting process can take up to 2-3 weeks to complete.
Need more help?
If you have any more questions or concerns regarding compliance and Textline, feel free to message us at +1 (415) 849-4349 or email us at [email protected]