In this hypothetical scenario we have a business (LLC) that legally purchased phone numbers from a website that sells lists of phone numbers and names.

The business then decides to send 30,000 text messages daily to 30,000 individuals on that list. Each text message, in this hypothetical scenario, provides current stock prices for the major indexes. The individuals that receive the text message are allowed to opt-out by replying with "STOP"

The individuals never provided the business with their phone numbers nor did the individuals provide consent to receive text messages from this phone number.

Is what the business (LLC) did illegal in the United States in this hypothetical scenario? If so how much trouble is the business in? Jail time? Fines? Class action lawsuits? etc?

  • @ColleenV please don’t answer in comments
    – Dale M
    Commented Jul 21, 2021 at 22:32

1 Answer 1


47 USC 227 forbids anyone

to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using any automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice...to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call, unless such call is made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States

where an automatic dialing system is

equipment which has the capacity— (A) to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and (B) to dial such numbers.

This prohibition covers voice calls, SMS and MMS, see Satterfield v. Simon & Schuster, Van Patten v. Vertical Fitness and Facebook v. Duguid. I assume that the messages are send automatically, not by hiring hundreds of people to enter numbers and send individual texts. Since businesses have been sued for doing this, a lawsuit is one of the consequences.

  • FYI, in practice, most of the prolific users of spam texts spoof the caller numbers which makes suing, as a practical matter, extremely difficult. The major cell networks with FCC involvement recently made changes that they hope will resolve the problem. theverge.com/2021/6/30/22557539/… I've heard industry officials state that something like half of the total cell network volume is spam. firstorion.com/…
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 23:18

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