The FTC pursued its first text message spammer under both the FTC Act and the CAN-SPAM Act. The FTC complaint alleges that Phillip Flora sent text message spam purporting to offer loan modifications to U.S. consumers. According to the complaint, the consumers who received the text messages never agreed to be contacted by Flora, and many of those consumers have wireless plans that require them to pay a fixed fee for each text message received by their wireless handsets. Additionally, the complaint alleges that Flora collected the telephone numbers of those who responded to his unsolicited text messages, and sold the numbers to third parties as “debt settlement leads.” The FTC also alleged that Flora sent unsolicited commercial e-mail messages, which fail to include the ability for consumers to opt out from receiving future e-mails from Flora, and also fail to include a valid physical postal address of the sender.

TIP: This first action from the FTC demonstrates that the commission views texting as falling under its purview. Companies that send marketing text messages should take steps to ensure that they do so in compliance with applicable laws.