The US mobile market continues to evolve and experience major growth with a 9% increase in mobile users from 2015 to 2016 and over 80% smartphone penetration. With the increase in cellphone customers, major carriers are experiencing a shortage of phone numbers to provision to their subscribers. As a result, mobile carriers have reduced how long they keep deactivated numbers inactive – some as short as 2 days and others as long as 50 days. The challenge this poses is making sure that subscriber opt-ins accurately reflect the intended text message recipients. Based on recent FCC clarifications of the TCPA, sending text messages to mobile phone numbers that have not opted-in constitutes spamming, for which clients could be fined $1,500 per message sent, and be subject to legal action. Solutions by Text recently introduced a new deactivation lookup logic in its platform to protect clients and software partners while ensuring compliance with TCPA guidelines.
Deactivated mobile phone numbers result from subscribers either switching carriers or removing a number from their account. Mobile carriers keep deactivated numbers inactive for different time periods – carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile keep deactivated numbers inactive for 2 days, while carriers such as Boost and Sprint keep deactivated numbers inactive for 50 days. If a subscriber deactivates a phone number and it is reassigned in as few as 2 days, the issue SBT’s clients have to deal with is ensuring that their messages are delivered to the intended customer and maintaining compliance with TCPA guidelines.
A business has Mike’s phone number and he is opted-in to receive text messages. One day, Mike switches his cellphone service from one carrier to another and gives up the phone number that was opted-in. The carrier puts his phone number on its deactivation list. This carrier keeps deactivated numbers inactive for 2 days. After 3 days, the carrier reassigns the deactivated phone number to another subscriber, Jim. Now if the business attempts to send a text message to the phone number, the message delivery will be successful. However, Jim will be confused about receiving a text he did not request. Unfortunately, this constitutes spam and exposes the business to legal action associated with the TCPA.
Solutions by Text helps mitigate the risk of sending messages to deactivated numbers in two ways:
- If a client attempts to send a message to a number that is deactivated, SBT will determine that the phone number is deactivated, prevent the message from delivering to the number and notify the client so they can take appropriate action
- More importantly, SBT has introduced a new deactivation lookup logic that pro-actively retrieves deactivated numbers from carriers on a daily basis and automatically blocks delivery to those numbers in the SBT platform; if clients attempt to send messages to deactivated numbers, SBT will block delivery and notify clients so they can take action on their side
In the next phase of development, Solutions by Text will update its robust API portfolio such that clients can pull their deactivated numbers directly with web service calls. With this additional capability, SBT’s clients can ensure they have the latest customer contact information on file and take action on any updates received from SBT.