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TCPA VS CTIA: What's The Difference?

Posted by Justin McIntire on Sep 25, 2019



Texting is the most powerful communication channel available, making it both highly effective and easy to abuse. Because of this, the government and wireless carriers have regulations in place including the TCPA and CTIA. In today’s blog we want to cover what the TCPA and CTIA are and what consumers need to know in order to stay compliant with their messaging. Let’s get started!

What is TCPA?

The TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) was passed in 1991 by Congress and signed into law. It is an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934. The TCPA restricts telephone based solicitations (AKA telemarketing) and the use of automated phone equipment used to make calls. The TCPA applies to phones, text messages, fax machines, and prerecorded voice messages.The TCPA required explicit consent from the customer before the company is allowed to message them, and ensures solicitors follow the National Do Not Call Registry.


 What are the main points of the TCPA?

  • You must have express consent before messaging.
  • Solicitation messaging requires proof of written consent. Evidence may include electronic opt-ins via mobile keyword and online sign-up pages. Written consent may be evidenced by paper sign-up forms explicitly describing SMS messaging content.
  • Non-solicitation messages (e.g., internal communications, emergency alerts) require documented written or verbal consent.
  • Solicitation messages may be sent only from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., recipient’s time.
  • You should make sure your message frequency matches your disclosures.
  • You must only send message content that matches what the subscriber initially opted in to receive.
  • For example: If a subscriber texted your mobile keyword to only receive account alerts, you cannot send them marketing material as well.
  • Messaging programs must allow opt-outs by any reasonable means, and senders may not restrict opt-out methods.
  • Every violation of the TCPA can be subject to a fine of up to $1,500 per message sent to each recipient.


What is the CTIA?

The CTIA is an organization created by mobile carriers to regulate message content and frequency. It is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization that represents wireless carriers and those that manufacture wireless products or provide services.

The following types of content are prohibited:

  • Pornography, sexual products, otherwise sexually explicit material including escort services.
  • Illegal drugs and or paraphernalia.
  • Alcoholic beverages, especially any promotion of alcohol to persons under 21 years of age.
  • Pirated computer programs, viruses, worms, Trojan horses, or other harmful code.
  • Instructions or materials for the assembly of bombs or other weapons.
  • Disclosure of anyone's private or personally identifying information without such party's prior express written consent (or parents' prior express written consent in the case of a minor).
  • On the basis of the practices and standards of your industry and community, any illegal or improper promotion to persons under 18 years of age.
  • Products, services, or content commonly associated with unsolicited commercial messages (a.k.a. spam), including but not limited to online and direct pharmaceutical sales (e.g., health and sexual well-being products), work-at-home businesses, credit or finance management (e.g., credit repair, debt relief, stock and trading tips), mortgage finance, 
  • Products, services, or content commonly associated with unsolicited commercial messages (a.k.a. spam) of claims of lost bank accounts or inheritances, and odds-making and gambling services (e.g., poker, casino games, horse and dog racing, college and professional sporting events)
  • Material that displays any person under 18 years of age in an illicit or otherwise exploitative manner.
  • Pyramid schemes or multi level-marketing (a.k.a. MLM or network marketing) businesses, including but not limited to "get rich quick," "build your wealth," and "financial independence" offerings.
  • Any libelous, defamatory, scandalous, threatening, or harassing activity.
  • Objectionable content including profanity, obscenity, lasciviousness, violence, bigotry, hatred, and any discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age.
  • Advocation, promotion, or other encouragement of violence against any government, organization, group, or individual or any instruction, information, or assistance in causing or carrying out such violence.
  • Any product or service related to death (e.g., mortuaries and cemeteries).
  • Any product or service that is unlawful where such product or service or promotion thereof is received.
  • Images of authors, artists, photographers, or others without prior express written consent form the content owner.
  • Any mention of any wireless carrier or any representation that copies or parodies any product or service of any wireless carriers.

Are you looking to start texting for your business? Our experts can run you through the best practices and any regulations that apply to your use case. Click here to talk to us today!

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