The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 was created to protect consumers from unsolicited emails from brands and businesses. For every single email that violates the CAN-SPAM Act, the FTC could levy a fine of $16,000.

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What is the CAN-SPAM Act?

The CAN-SPAM Act establishes rules for commercial email and commercial messages. Recipients have the right to request a business stop emailing them. However, it doesn’t just apply to bulk email – the Act defines “commercial messages” as ‘any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,' including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. 

Commercial emails must comply in the following areas:


  • Companies must provide a clear and obvious way to opt out of every email sent and must honor any unsubscribe requests within 10 business days.
  • Companies cannot charge a fee for opting out, require any information other than email address, and make recipients take any steps beyond replying to an email or visiting a single page to unsubscribe.


  • Companies must include a valid postal address in every email sent.
  • Emails or messages must include clear “From,” “To,” and “Reply to” language that is accurate, including the person or business sending the email, their domain and email address.
  • Subject lines must be clear and not deceptive or misrepresent the content of the message. Advertisements must be identified.

Sending Behavior

  • It is the responsibility of companies to monitor what third-parties are sending on their behalf.
  • Companies may not sell or transfer names to other lists once a contact has opted out.

The CAN-SPAM Act also prohibits:

  • Accessing someone else’s computer to send unsolicited emails.
  • Using false information to register for multiple email accounts or domains.
  • Relaying or retransmitting commercial messages to disguise their origin.

What gets your organization into TCPA hot water?



Ensure your email communications are compliant

Compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act depends on the purpose of your commercial message or email.
There are two types:

  • Commercial content - This advertises or promotes a product or service and includes content on a commercial website. Violations of the CANSPAM Act related to commercial content can be very expensive.
  • Transactional content - This facilitates or updates a transaction that was already agreed-upon or is ongoing.

CAN-SPAM does not concern itself with transactional emails outside of a few stipulations: messages may still not include any misleading information or subject lines and must still provide identifying information, including a physical address for the company.

The content of transactional messages may include information about:

  • Warranty, recall, safety, or security information about a product or service
  • Changes in terms, features or account balance information regarding a subscription, account, etc.
  • Employment relationship or employee benefits
  • Delivery of goods or services the recipient has requested

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ValueClick, Inc.

Online advertiser ValueClick, Inc paid a fine of $2.9 million to settle FTC charges that its advertising claims and emails were deceptive, claiming consumers were eligible for “free” gifts, including laptops, tablets, and gift cards, when in reality consumers would need to expend significant amounts of money to obtain any promised “free” merchandise.

$2.9 Million

Fine Amount


Fined For


Year Fined


How PossibleNOW can help

Staying in compliance with Do Not Email regulations like CAN-SPAM is an essential part of doing business today. Work with PossibleNOW, your compliance partner, to help you avoid violations, falling behind on regulatory changes, and upsetting your customers. PossibleNOW’s platform, DNCSolution, helps companies comply with CAN-SPAM.

DNemail features include:

  • High-volume email list scrubbing – handle single emails to millions of email addresses
  • Provides a one-click opt-out solution for compliance
  • Offers flexibility to manage opt-out requests company-wide, or specific by product, campaign, division, or department
  • Provides scrub receipts for a record of email compliance
  • Exceptional customer support and application training for your team
  • Seamless integration with existing systems
  • Maintains a historical archive of all opt-out requests

Getting started is just a click away