What is CAN-SPAM?
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What is CAN-SPAM? If your business uses email marketing, the CAN-SPAM Act allows those receiving your messages to opt out. Fail to comply, and the penalties are tough. How tough? EACH instance of non-compliance can cost up to $43,792. Ouch.

CAN-SPAM sounds like a catchy name for spam emails, and it is. The acronym stands for “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing” and is part of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.

In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission determined that no changes were necessary to the rule after inviting public comment. The FTC received 92 public comments, virtually all of which supported retaining this rule.

Since the definition of commercial emails is so broad under the law, the act applies to all marketing emails, including those from business to business.

How to avoid CAN-SPAM non-compliance

To ensure you’re compliant with the act, follow the guidelines below:

  • Use subject lines that accurately reflect your message.
  • Make it clear your message is an ad.
  • Include a valid physical address in the message.
  • Ensure all routing information is accurate and identifies the sender.
  • Explain to recipients how they can opt out of future emails.
  • Honor opt-out requests within 10 business days.

Also, keep in mind that you can’t use that person’s email address or sell it to any entity, including a mailing list, once they’ve opted out.

If another company handles email marketing for your firm, that doesn’t let you off the hook. Under the CAN-SPAM Act, both the company with the product promotion and the company sending the email are liable.

The only requirement for the recipient is either sending out a reply email with an opt-out message or visiting a single online website page to opt out.

Since the definition of commercial emails is so broad under the law, CAN-SPAM applies to all marketing emails. Click To Tweet
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About the author

Lorraine Roberte

Lorraine Roberte is an experienced personal finance writer living in sunny South Florida. She helps readers make informed decisions about their mortgage, insurance, credit cards, small business finances, and more. Her work has appeared on sites like The Simple Dollar, The Balance, I Will Teach You To Be Rich,, and numerous others.