Anti-Spam Information: United States

Image: Hormel Foods

Image: Hormel Foods

Let's talk about Spam, no I don't mean the precooked meat products that were introduced in 1937, I mean the annoying email messages we have all received before. Merriam-Webster defines Spam as “e-mail that is not wanted: e-mail that is sent to large numbers of people and that consists mostly of advertising”. What can you do to make sure you are not spamming your self-storage tenants? Below we will review the laws in the United States to better understand the anti-spam procedures.

In the United States, the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act focuses on unsolicited commercial email. The key word is unsolicited, which means the person receiving the email has not asked for it.

What Does CAN-SPAM Regulate?
Have you heard of the term “Commercial Electronic Message” (CEM) before? Simply put, CEM is email for the purpose of advertising or promoting a product or service.

What Requirements Need To Be Met Before A CEM Can Be Sent?
Below is a summary of information from The CAN-SPAM Act (In Plain English), a blog posting by Andy Meng, Director of Business Development for Infront Webworks.  

1. State Your Identity
All commercial emails must clearly identify who is sending the messages. By identifying the business, it ensures the recipient is not confused who has sent the message.

  • Make sure the information in the To, From and Reply fields are easy to understand. Along with this, the heading, or subject, of the message must also be clear and not deceptive. Make sure the subject states what the email is about and does not have misleading information.

  • Somewhere inside the email your business must be distinctly represented. To be represented, make sure to list the business name, and company address. It is also a good idea to list the business telephone number too.

2. Make Sure To Send Messages to Those That Want It
When you are ready to send a commercial electronic message, make sure the person receiving the message actually wants it. Customers can tell you they want to receive messages from your business in many ways. Here are a few examples:

  • A customer can subscribe to receive emails from your business. If you have a company website and it has a "subscribe" field this would allow you to send to people that have filled out the proper information.
  • Customer can give you their business card. If you would like to email the customer after receiving their business card, make sure to state that is what your intention is when the card is given.
  • Customer can also verbally tell you they would like to receive email messages. 
  • Recent customers (someone that has made a purchase within the last 2 years) can also receive CEMs from your business.

3. Opt-out
Make sure all commerical electronic messages have an Opt-Out, or “unsubscribe”, link. This allows customers to stop receiving message from your business in the future. 

  • Make sure the unsubscribe section is easy to find and follow.
  • A business cannot charge the customer for unsubscribing to emails and opt-out never expires.
  • By law, the business has 10 days to remove the customer from the email list.
  • Once a customer opts-out of receiving email, they cannot be sent messages anymore unless consent is obtained again.

4. Keep Email Addresses To Yourself
True email marketing sends useful information to existing customers. Here are a few rules to remember:

  • Do not send email to people you do not know.
  • Do not buy email addresses
  • Do not sell your customer email addresses

Anti-Spam regulation is a growing concnern for business owners and consumers. Make sure you understand the law and can follow it correctly. We are not a lawyer and cannot offer legal advice. If you have concerns about the messages you send to customers check with an attorney.


Are you interested in reading more about anti-spam laws in the United States? Check out the Federal Communications Commission's website and this Practice Note published by the Practical Law Company.


We enjoy hearing from you! Post your comments by visiting us on Facebook and Twitter using #StorageSwap.