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I apologize if this has been answered before, I see similar questions although under slightly different circumstances.

I am currently renting an apartment in Texas. My rental company uses SMS to send me updates about various things that require attention — maintenance visits, water interruptions, etc. These are normal and totally acceptable.

However, occasionally I receive texts (spam) from them offering various services that look effectively like this:

Worried about hail damage? <Apartment Company> has storage with covered parking available. Call <Apartment Company> for more details <phone number>.

To me, this is spam. This is unsolicited and unwanted. I have never authorized marketing messages to my personal cell phone. There is no opt-out option within this message, and no option for opting out of marketing messages within their portal.

I informed the front office that I do not wish to receive any more of these messages. They claimed that because we have a 'prior relationship' that these message are not spam, and are perfectly legal and they have no obligation to allow me to opt out.

Does this legally qualify as spam? If not, why not? And if so, what is my legal recourse? Should I simply file a complaint with the FTC?

In all honesty, I tried to first handle this like an adult by simply asking them to please stop spamming me as it seemed like a small misunderstanding. However their response has been aggressively rude, and they are quite belligerent in their response that this is not spam and they have no obligation to let me opt out.

  • Is there an option to opt out of messages in general? – Putvi Apr 30 at 18:05
  • In the portal, there is only the option to enable notifications for payment reminders. – rob Apr 30 at 18:50
  • Does that cut off all messages though? – Putvi Apr 30 at 18:51
  • Sadly, I have effectively no way of determining that. The checkboxes are both indented under the label Recurring Payment Reminders which leads me to believe it would not, however I have no idea of how their CMS operates via SMS options under the hood and the only way to check would be to uncheck these options and see if I get more spam. – rob Apr 30 at 18:54
  • You would need to do that if you wanted to sue, but I'd just report it to your cell company and block the number tbh. – Putvi Apr 30 at 18:55
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According to this page from the US FTC such spam is illegal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. (The specific provisions of those laws are discussed on this page from a law office.)

The FTC lists as an exception:

Transactional or relationship types of messages. If a company has a relationship with you, it can send you things like statements or warranty information.

This does not appear to include ads for new and different products or services from a firm that you have a relationship with that does not involve those products or services.

The FTC also advises that:

If you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint or Bell subscriber, you can report spam texts to your carrier by copying the original message and forwarding it to the number 7726 (SPAM), free of charge.

The page also describes how to file a complaint with the FTC.

This Wikipedia article confirms this, and also notes that:

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an order in Aug, 2004 that reiterated that SMS spam messages to cellphones are illegal under the existing Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Each such unsolicited message received without permission entitles the recipient to take the sender to small claims court and collect a minimum of $1 for each violation.

...

The 2003 TCPA Order (18 FCC Rcd at 14115, para. 165) says: “Both the statute and our rules prohibit these calls, with limited exceptions, ‘to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged.’ This encompasses both voice calls and text calls to wireless numbers including, for example, short message service (SMS) calls, provided the call is made to a telephone number assigned to such service.”

This article also mentions the 7726 complaint number.

However, some of the restrictions may only apply if an automated dialing mechanism is used or "an artificial or prerecorded message" is sent.

According to the Wikipedia article on the TCPA a consumer:

may (1) sue for up to $500 for each violation or recover actual monetary loss, whichever is greater, (2) seek an injunction, or (3) both. (see 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(3)(a),(b))

Telling the office that you plan to take them to small claims, which would require them to send someone to represent them in court, and might also be negative publicity for them, might get them to stop sending msgs to you. You could also place a negative review mentioning this spam on any online review service in your area. Or you could tell the office that you will do this if the spam continues. Be careful not to make any false or unprovable statements in any such review. You might want to send a written demand that they stop sending you such unwanted text solicitations, citing the two laws, by certified mail with return receipt.

  • Technically if they provide an opt out for all the messages period, they don't need one for the ads specifically, so I don't know that the person could sue, but the complaint link and blocking the number are clearly what should be done. – Putvi Apr 30 at 18:27
  • @Putvi the question says that there is no opt-out of any kind, so the OP should be able to sue if s/he sees fit. If an opt-out for all messages from the company was provided, that might fulfill its legal obligations, I am not sure. But it would be poor business on the part of the company, IMO. – David Siegel Apr 30 at 18:36
  • The question says no opt out for the messages the he/she doesn't want. I agree its poor business. – Putvi Apr 30 at 18:38
  • I appreciate the time you've taken for to explain this. I also confirmed the above information with the FTC directly and filed a complaint. At the moment- I have no intention of sueing as management has warned if I push the issue further, they will retaliate. So, in the end it's just a sleezy business doing what it does. However, I only have one month left, and after that I will leave forever. As much as it pains me, I'll likely just let the issue go. – rob Apr 30 at 19:02
  • @rob retaliation for exercising rights under a federal statute is often itself illegal. But it would probably cost you time and trouble, if nothing else, to enforce those rights. Once you have moved you could choose to post an online review to warn others -- they would have no effective way to retaliate at that point. Indeed you would have a year or more to file suit from the last spam sent to you. But you would have to decide if that is worth your time. – David Siegel Apr 30 at 19:13

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