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BBB Tips: Political campaign texting

BBB Tips: Political campaign texting

Nashville, TN., Oct. 16, 2020 – As the general election continues to speed up, many have noticed an increase in advertisements on Social Media, in the mail, and even on your phone. This election is increasingly becoming known as ‘the texting election’ due to the increased use of Short Message Service (SMS) or text messages.

While SMS has been used as a campaign tool in the 2016 general election, this general election has normalized its use. However, the SMS increase has led many people to ask questions such as, “how do I know if it is legitimate”, “how can I stop these messages”, or “how did they get my number?”.

“Whenever a new technology is adopted, it can lead to a lot of confusion,” says Robyn Householder, President and CEO of Better Business Bureau (BBB) Serving Middle TN and Southern KY. “Scammers have started to use this technology as well, but there are many legitimate and legal ways political campaigns are using this technology.”

BBB experts say that many calls to BBB about political SMS messages have to do with how someone got their cell phone number. Householder says that while some people might have unknowingly given their consent and number to a campaign, more times than not, it may have come from a third-party source like a big data firm.

“Even though your cell phone number might be private information, it can be effortless for someone to find online,” says Householder.

This leads to the question, is it legal?

According to the FCC, there are regulations regarding political texting that are similar to how the FCC regulates political phone calls. First, the FCC has said robotic texts and mass messages through auto-dialing are treated like automated calls and are not allowed to be sent to cell phones without consent. However, there is a gray area for manually dialed texts, which the FCC says, “can be sent without prior consent of the intended recipient.”

How can you stop it?

While there is no exact way to stop political campaigns from contacting you manually, you can take steps to limit the number of texts you might get.

  • Block the sender. If you are getting texts from a specific number, it is sometimes easiest to block the number.
  • Reply STOP to the sender. Typically, political texts, automated or not, will allow you to opt-out of further communication. However, this can be a slight risk because if it is a scam text, the scammer now knows the cell phone is active.
  • Use your text filters. Most smartphones will allow you to filter your inbox, so you are only notified of texts from known numbers. Here is how you can do this on iMessage, and here is an article on android.
  • Contact the political campaign. Often it is a volunteer that is texting you, so contacting someone at the campaign to remove your number may be your last effort. If they do not, you can always file a complaint with the FCC.

BBB tips for SMS

  • Don’t click on links. Always go to the website or link independently.
  • Do not respond to texts asking for account info. Unless you initiated the text, you should never respond to a message that seems off.
  • You can report a spam message by copying the message and sending it to the FTC at 7726.

For more tips visit
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About BBB of Middle Tennessee and Southern KentuckyFor more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviewsdispute resolution servicesalerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit for more information. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Middle TN and Southern KY, which was founded in 1961 and serves 45 counties in Middle TN and Southern KY. Visit for more information.