Unfortunately, this is a loaded question because one portion of the question is 100% legal and then one portion of the question is 100% illegal. So, let me explain. You can purchase mobile phone numbers. There is many data brokers that are out there that will sell you mobile phone numbers. On the other hand, you cannot text message those phone numbers because it is illegal. So, while you can, yes, buy mobile numbers, you cannot text message those phone numbers. Now why can’t you text message those phone numbers and why is it illegal? Well, here in the United States, we have the FCC. And FCC developed federal law called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. It’s pretty long but some people call it the TCPA. And essentially, it says you cannot text message consumers without their consent. And it has to be prior consent. It can’t be consent after the fact because that’s really not consent, I think. So, in the TCPA, it’s very clear that you cannot text message customers without their consent. Now, if you do text message customers without their consent, so let’s say you purchased a list of mobile phone numbers, and you text message those phone numbers, that would be text messaging people without their consent. Now, if you do that, under the TCPA, which is federal law, consumers have the right to sue your business for anywhere between $500 and $1,500 per text message. Now that’s not text message you sent out. So if you send 1 text message to a million people, you’re not gonna be sued $500 to $1,500, you’re gonna be sued for a million times $500 or $1,500. So you can see that buying phone numbers, while that is usually cheap, the consequences of buying mobile phone numbers and then text messaging those phone numbers can be in the millions or hundreds of millions of dollars. So you do not want to buy mobile phone numbers and text message them because while it is legal to buy the phone numbers, it is 100% illegal to text message those phone numbers that you purchased that never gave your business consent to send text messages to them. So hopefully that answers the question as to, “Can you buy mobile phone numbers for text message marketing?”


In Europe the first cross-carrier SMS shortcode campaign was run by Txtbomb in 2001 for an Island Records release, In North America it was the Labatt Brewing Company in 2002. Over the past few years mobile short codes have been increasingly popular as a new channel to communicate to the mobile consumer. Brands have begun to treat the mobile short code as a mobile domain name allowing the consumer to text message the brand at an event, in store and off any traditional media.
The new Telephone Consumer Protection Act guidelines going into effect on October 16th 2013 require written, auditable consent for every consumer in a mobile database whereas previously consent could be express, meaning a company had previously done business with an individual. For those marketers not already using written consent for their opt-in programs, the new guidelines will require a significant change in how they structure their programs. Any company who is sending SMS messages as part of their marketing initiative need to follow the below guidelines:
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In order to gain their mobile number, they will have to have a great deal of trust in you and a pre-existing relationship will help. They also need to know that what you'll be sending them via SMS message is exclusive offers, not the same offer that you give via email and social media. Be clear with your customers and use the following guidelines when introducing SMS marketing to your customers:
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