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Say “spam” and most business executives think of annoying e-mail messages, like the ones that hold out a phony offer to split $50 million that’s sitting in a foreign bank. Of course, this type of message is covered by the Federal Trade Commission’s CAN-SPAM Rule, which is designed to protect consumers from deceptive commercial e-mail.

But CAN-SPAM covers e-mails from legitimate businesses, too, such as e-mail notifying customers about a new product line or a special sale. To help explain what the CAN-SPAM Rule covers, the FTC has produced a new video for businesses with a seven-point checklist for sending commercial e-mail messages. For example, e-mail marketers must use accurate headers and subject lines and provide a method for consumers to stop getting e-mails. In addition to the video, the FTC also offers a brochure, The CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business.

For businesses that know the basics, compliance isn’t complicated. A business can be held legally responsible for violations committed by people they hire to handle e-mail, and each law violation can cost up to $16,000. Given the cost of a violation to a company’s bottom line and reputation, complying with CAN-SPAM is just good business.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. “Like” the FTC on Facebook and “follow” us on Twitter.

(CAN-SPAM Video)

Contact Information

Office of Public Affairs
Nat Wood
Bureau of Consumer Protection