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Complying with the CAN-SPAM Act

emailLife would be so much better if we didn’t wake up every morning to a mailbox full of spam.

Usually when I get unsolicited emails from companies that do not include an opt-out I will reply to the email and ask them nicely to remove me from their list. I normally give them a link to the FTC site and try to educate them about the CAN-SPAM Act. 9 times out of 10 they are grateful because some people still do not understand that there are rules to sending emails.

Occasionally I get someone who will just not listen. For example – over the last 6 months I’ve received emails from a person named Adam J McLean who has what he refers to as a referral website called the Jofi Dream Team (JDT) and he keeps asking me to join for $50 a month. 3 different times I’ve politely told him I am not interested and asked him to remove me from his list. The last time I gave him a link to the FTC website and suggested he read about the CAN-SPAM Act, and this was his reply:

“You are ridiculous. How tough is it to delete an email? It took you more time to send me an email. I get a million emails. Click and delete. That easy!

Have a great week!

Adam”

It won’t be me, but someone one of these days will get tired of his unsolicited emails and will report him to the FTC.

So what is the CAN-SPAM Act?

Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing (CAN-SPAM) is a law that establishes the rules for commercial email and commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have a business stop emailing them, and outlines the penalties incurred for those who violate the law.

CAN-SPAM doesn't just apply to bulk email. "It covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as 'any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,' including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email." It does, however, exempt transactional and relationship messages.

Penalties for non-compliance are very steep. For every single email that violates the CAN-SPAM Act, the FTC will fine you up to $16,000. If you are caught being non-compliant and sending hundreds of emails your fines could be in the millions of dollars.

The CAN-SPAM Act applies to any person or business entity that initiates or sends a commercial e-mail message to a business or individual consumer (regardless of whether the message is unsolicited). Commercial e-mail messages must generally comply with the following requirements:

1. Inclusion of a valid physical postal address in every email you send out.
2. Providing a clear and obvious way to opt out of future emails.
3. Clear "From," "To," and "Reply to" language that accurately reflects who you are. This applies to the person or business sending the message, as well as the domain name and email address.
4. Not selling or transferring any email addresses to another list.
5. Not making it hard to unsubscribe from emails.
6. Not using deceptive subject lines that misrepresent the contents of the message.

For more information please visit: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business

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