How the CAN-SPAM Act can protect your inbox

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Not only are relentless spam emails from brokers or third-party logistics providers a nuisance—they can actually be illegal. The CAN-SPAM Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2003, introduced to prevent unwanted emails that can clog up your inbox.

The CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t just protect you from email blasts. “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,” according to the Federal Trade Commission.  

Despite the intentions of the CAN-SPAM Act, drivers have stated that these unsolicited messages continue to pile up daily. Many drivers have turned to Facebook groups to share their own experiences with the constant stream of unwanted emails that pile up day after day.

FreightWaves spoke with Chad Boblett, the administrator for the Rate Per Mile Masters Facebook group, who expressed his frustration with endless emails from brokers, even after asking to be taken off of the list. In an August 2017 post, Boblett wrote: “I have asked to be taken off this email list, and now I am being told that it is mandatory spam and they can’t remove me. What kind of broker does crap like this? Time to write a review. I bet they take me off this spam list.” “I would never work with a broker that does this,” Boblett posted in the Rate Per Mile Masters group in August 2017.

A little over a year later, Boblett found himself pestered again, this time by a different broker. “I HATE being put on brokers email blast. Twice I have asked agents to get taken off the email blast, and both times the agent said they could not take me off the list and that I would have to talk to another office about getting removed. Really, you can’t stop emailing me? I just don’t see how this is effective in getting a truck,” Boblett wrote on August 7th, 2018.

The FTC writes that “once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list,” but some drivers have had a different experience entirely. In the Trucking: Rates and Lanes Facebook group, a member shared the contents of an email in which a company acknowledged the driver’s request to be put on the no-call list while still continuing to contact the driver. “I know you are on our no call list so I don’t want to bother you over the phone. However maybe we can spark a conversation on a load I have today and go from there,” the message starts.

According to the FTC’s compliance guide for business, “Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days,” but both Boblett and the Trucking: Rates and Lanes member have demonstrated that their opt-out requests haven’t always been honored.

Businesses cannot “charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request.” Instead, they have the responsibility to remove a recipient from their mailing list as soon as possible.

As reported by Lexis Nexis, fines for violations of the CAN-SPAM act can be weighty: “Complying with the CAN-SPAM Act is crucial, as the failure to do so may lead to regulatory scrutiny, steep fines of up to $16,000 per violation, and significant public relations and reputational consequences.”

The FTC recommends forwarding unwanted commercial emails to to report companies who violate the CAN-SPAM Act.