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Small businesses have email rules

Federal and Arizona commercial law governs many small business activities. For instance, small businesses that want to send email marketing must comply with rules that provide protections for unwanted email solicitations. In addition to the CAN-SPAM Act, there must be regulatory compliance with the Federal Trade Commission's commercial marketing rules.

The FTC's rules govern all commercial messages. These include e-mail messages that are sent primarily as a commercial advertisement, promotion of a commercial service or product or has promotional information on commercial websites.

For example, an email sent to former customers advertising a new product are governed. Business-to-business emails are not excluded.

Email marketing cannot disguise the sender of the message by using false information in the sender or recipient fields. The domain name in the sender's email address and other routing information must accurately identify the message sender. A business must also provide a physical postal address that follows U.S. Postal Service regulations.

Subject lines may be creative but cannot lead recipients to misconstrue the message contents. The message also must be identified as an advertisement and not as involving aspects of their finances such as any accounts they hold with the business sender.

Marketers must clearly notify recipients that they can block their emails. The notification should include instructions on opting-out of the marketer's email list and a return email address or unsubscribe link.

Businesses must act on these opt-out requests within 10 days.

Businesses must also assure that any marketers acting under contract comply with these laws and regulations. The business and any marketer under contract are legally liable for violations. Each email sent in violation of these rules is punishable by a fine to the neighborhood of $16,000.

An attorney can help small businesses comply with federal and Arizona laws on marketing, licensing and other business laws. Legal advice can help assure that business goals are met in accordance with the law.

Source: The Herald-Palladium, "Email marketing rules small business owners should know," Dec. 31, 2017

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