Forbidden Message Categories in the US and Canada (Short Code, Toll-Free, and Long Code)

In messaging regulations, businesses must understand and adhere to the forbidden message categories governing SMS and MMS platforms in the United States and Canada. Under the new A2P 10DLC system, which encompasses Short Code, Toll-Free, and Long Code messaging, stringent guidelines are in place to maintain compliance with regulatory standards and carrier requirements.

Certain message types are strictly prohibited to uphold the integrity of messaging platforms. These restrictions extend beyond the content of the message to encompass the nature of the business itself. It's crucial to refrain from engaging in the following activities:

1. High-Risk Financial Services

  • Examples include payday loans, short-term high-interest loans, new loan soliciting, third-party loans, student loans, cryptocurrency, and stocks and investing platforms.
  • Third-party loans originating from any party other than the loan servicer are strictly prohibited.
  • Businesses solely operating in stocks, investing, or cryptocurrency may only send SMS traffic that is 2FA and/or transactional messaging.

2. Third-Party Lead Generation Services and Marketing

  • Prohibited activities include buying, selling, or sharing consumer information, affiliate lending, affiliate marketing, and deceptive marketing.
  • Consent must be obtained directly from end-users, and political use case customers cannot utilize voter registration databases for outreach.

3. Debt Collection or Forgiveness

  • Prohibited activities encompass third-party debt collection, debt consolidation, debt reduction, debt relief, and credit/debt repair.
  • Debt collection businesses may send related content with direct consent from end-users.

4."Get Rich Quick" Schemes

  • Examples include deceptive work-from-home programs, risk investment opportunities, pyramid schemes, mystery shopping, and multi-level marketing (MLM).
  • MLM consultants may message other consultants with specific content but cannot promote products to consumers/customers or promote becoming a consultant.

5. Illegal Substances/Articles

  • Prohibited substances and products include cannabis, CBD, kratom, paraphernalia products, vape/e-cigarettes, and fireworks.
  • Regardless of federal or state legality, businesses in these categories are forbidden from utilizing SMS/MMS messaging.

6. Prescription Drugs

  • Offers for drugs requiring a prescription or those that cannot be sold over the counter in the US/Canada are forbidden, regardless of licensing.

7. Gambling

  • Prohibited activities encompass casino apps, gambling websites, sweepstakes, 50/50 raffles, contests, and betting/sports picks.
  • Gambling traffic is prohibited on all number types in the US and Canada.

8. "S.H.A.F.T." Use Cases and Electronic Smoking Devices:

  • Prohibited categories include sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, tobacco, and vape/e-cigarettes.
  • Alcohol traffic is allowed in the US with proper age-gating procedures, while firearms, tobacco, vaping, and e-cigarettes are strictly prohibited regardless of age-gating.
  • Age-gated content in Canada must be blocked across all number types unless a special carrier exemption is obtained.

Even if a specific use case is not listed as prohibited, certain message content may still be subject to restrictions. For instance, the use of shared or free public URL shorteners is not permitted, and shortened URLs must be company-branded.

T-Mobile has its own fee regarding this forbidden content, review the Sev-0 Violations.

Adhering to these forbidden message categories is paramount to ensure compliance with regulatory standards and carrier requirements. By upholding these guidelines, businesses can maintain a safe and reliable messaging environment while effectively communicating with their audience.

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