Mobile Carriers Crack Down on Spam Texting

As texting grows in health and human services there is a greater level of scrutiny on the manner in which texting platforms function.  Our clients have always taken comfort in knowing we developed our system specifically for the work they do.  PreventionPays Text uses Enterprise Short Code Technology, the gold standard in the texing industry.  In fact, short codes obtained through Neustar are the only method of texting used by HHS, CDC, HRSA, mHealth Alliance, and many others because of the rigorous provisioning process they must go through in order to operate on each mobile carrier gateway. Short codes support automated optin/out and must comply with all FCC anti-spamming rules and regulations which are closely monitored by CTIA and the mobile carriers.  During the provisioning process, message tracking capacity is initiated.

PreventionPays Text will be highlighted at APHA 2014 and the National WIC Association Technology conferences in the fall as "best practice" for two-way conversational texting and outgoing, group messaging for education and improved health outcomes. In addition to supporting text line services for hotlines/helplines, PreventionPays Text is now widely used by WIC agencies, 2-1-1 Contact Centers, Medicare agencies as well as numerous state and regional health departments, universities and research institutions. 

Carriers Have Banned A2P (Application to Person) Use of Long Codes

The Mobile carriers (AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile) have banned Application to Person (A2P) use of Long Codes because the numbers are not provisioned to automate the opt-in/opt-out and are not registered with to provide services to people originating from applications.  Penalties range from carrier-wide blocking to severe fines, up to $1,000 per instance.  Additionally both the aggregator and the application providers (managing the A2P long code) may be named in a lawsuit.  Our aggregator mBlox (the largest sms aggregator in the world) does not offer long codes because "the risk is just too high. Financial institutions and health services recognize the risks and we want to make sure our focus is where those industries want to be... and that's short codes." (Mary D'Allesandro, Head of Account Management, mBlox)

Long numbers for A2P messaging is not supported by the carriers and they go to great lengths to detect it and block it as spam. That’s why you see all of these special “rules” that application providers use to try and avoid being detected and having their number shut off or their bind cancelled. The risk is generally not worth it, which is why we (mBlox) have decided not to offer longcodes.
— mBlox, Largest Aggregator, Worldwide

PreventionPays Text is the only service of its kind in the industry that is built according to HIPAA, CTIA and FCC security guidelines since 2006. New anti-spamming laws now regulate the SMS industry with severe penalties for operating outside the specified guidelines.

Short codes are the only numbers that automate the opt-in/opt-out and this is by design - they are provisioned to do so by the mobile carriers during setup. Before they can begin to send and receive messages they must first pass these tests completed by each carrier.

If you are unsure about the vendor or services you can ask the question, is you company registered with Compliance? If the answer is "no" then they are providing services using numbers that are out of compliance making them subject to the above mentioned penalties.

EMS is in frequent communication with the CTIA Compliance team to ensure our short codes are meeting mobile industry communication guidelines which include how the number functions as well as how the number is being presented on the Internet and in printed materials.

You can read about these guidelines by going here:  Common Short Code Best Practices

Key Facts:

  • Mobile carriers have banned the use of long codes for Application to Person (A2P) texting
  • Do not support fully automated opt-in/opt-out
  • Long codes are not able to support handset delivery receipts (zero message tracking)
  • Carrier-wide blocking that occurs at any time without warning
  • Throughput restrictions (8 messages per minute) If a long code exceeds 8 per minute it will be blocked by carriers without warning.
  • Unable to support end user privacy and are deemed non-compliant with FCC and CTIA
  • Recycled numbers, origin unknown
  • Operate Outside Industry Regulations

The FCC Anti-Spam Act states that it is the public's right to request texts and then cancel them at any time and this should occur in a fully-automated way.

Long codes are not provisioned to support end user privacy. If you text STOP to a long code, you won't get any message back.  In fact, you'll always wind up getting more spam messages than before because they now know there's a live person at the other end. And most often, the next time you're spammed, it will be from an entirely different long code. The companies that are leasing long codes are re-selling the phone numbers that interact with their long codes. The worst part is, it's entirely unbeknownst to their clients that are leasing the long codes and the owners of the mobile phones that interact with them.  So next time you get a text from your dentist and it's from a 10-digit number, DO NOT send a message back (unless you want to get spammed) and alert your dentist about long code spamming. He'll thank you for it.

It's also important to note that carrier blocking can occur on a long code before your program started using it. All digital numbers are recycled.  So, you have no way of knowing how it was used before you started using it.

We've all received unsolicited texts from numbers we don't recognize and they're always from 10 digit numbers. Spammers don't use short codes (5 or 6 digit numbers) because they are provisioned and operate in a regulated industry that protects end user privacy. These rules and end user privacy make short code texting a secure, safe and enduring environment.  

The entities that govern short code texting are: Mobile Carriers, CTIA, Common Short Code Administration

HHS provides texting recommendations to public health agencies. Every example they reference uses Short Code technology SEE:
Also check out King County Public Health at:
King County Public Health has published several papers on texting in public health. And they make recommendations about how to build a program.  None of their literature mentions using long codes. It's always about short codes because they're secure and protect end user privacy. 

Big News! PreventionPays Text will be highlighted at AIRS 2015 during the 2-1-1 General Assembly! Whether you're a 2-1-1 or other I&R, there will be something for everyone! 


PreventionPays Text Strictly Adheres to FCC and CTIA Anti-Spamming Rules and Regulations

PreventionPays Text Strictly Adheres to FCC and CTIA Anti-Spamming Rules and Regulations