In an effort to promote customer trust and protect consumers, carriers require verification of all numbers sending messages from merchants to consumers. Beginning October 1st, 2022, carriers require toll-free numbers (TFNs) to be verified before sending messages. Since October 2022, carriers have gradually tightened their regulations on the number of messages allowed to be sent from an unverified TFN. Starting November 8th, 2023, all messages sent from an unverified TFN will be blocked.
Requiring a verification process unlocks perks such as better throughput and deliverability of messages because these numbers have gone through a formal review.
Postscript takes care of the heavy lifting to submit your verification request so your brand can focus on setting up and running your SMS program compliantly. In this article, we outline the process and discuss the benefits of a formal verification process.
Benefits of the TFN Verification Process
- Promotes consumer trust and ensures SMS stays a long-term trusted marketing channel. By enforcing stricter verification processes and filtering potential spam, carriers will ultimately earn the trust of consumers by protecting their most intimate inbox from spam and fraud schemes and only allowing authorized traffic to enter (aka messages from their friends, family, and favorite brands!).
- Reduces the chance of being filtered by carriers. iOS16 makes it easier for consumers to report spam/junk. Verifying your number can reduce the chance of being flagged as spam and filtered by carriers.
- Focus on running your business and setting up your SMS program compliantly while Postscript does the heavy lifting for you. In the event your verification is denied, our team will work closely with you and our carrier partners to help you through the escalation process quickly.
TFN Verification Process Overview
What is a toll-free number?
Before we dive into the TFN verification process, let’s define a TFN. A toll-free number is a 10-digit number starting with (8XX) that a shop can use to send SMS and MMS messages to a subscriber's mobile device. You've likely seen a toll-free number in a texting campaign, such as "Text HOLIDAYS to 1-833-555-1234."
Postscript assigns a toll-free number to your shop as soon as you install Postscript. You can view your shop's toll-free number on your Keywords page.
Postscript uses both toll-free numbers and dedicated short codes (DSC). TFNs are great for businesses new to SMS as they provide brands with a professional phone number to send messages. DSCs are ideal for shops with a large subscriber list who want fast, consistent delivery speeds. Learn more about the differences between a TFN and DSC here.
What happens during the TFN verification process?
Once a TFN is assigned to a shop (upon installation), it’s sent through the verification process. Postscript first manually reviews the shop’s website. This manual review can take up to 5 business days. Shops will be audited for legitimacy (in other words, we are looking to make shops are running real ecommerce businesses and not attempting to scam or smish consumers via SMS).
Because carriers have additional restrictions for certain types of brands (often referred to as SHAFT brands - learn more here), part of this process involves checking your site for any SHAFT content. SHAFT stands for sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, and tobacco (CBD--included).
Carriers aim to protect consumers - especially underage consumers - from being exposed to SHAFT products and marketing. As a result, carriers will block/filter messages that include SHAFT content without proper age verification on the website and in the SMS thread.
As a carrier-trusted provider, Postscript offers in-thread age verification and is able to service US alcohol brands on the professional and enterprise plans starting in January 2023. If you are a brand that sells alcohol-related products, please see this article to understand how your brand can begin messaging the appropriate subscribers compliantly.
Once your website is audited by the Postscript platform, our partner Twilio provides a human audit on behalf of the U.S. and Canadian carriers. The entire verification process can take ~3-10 business days.
Why would my shop be denied from verification?
There are several reasons (and many that we can overcome via escalation) however, the most common reasons are:
- Impermissible Website Content. Because carriers have additional restrictions for certain types of brands (often referred to as SHAFT brands - learn more here), part of this process involves checking your site for any SHAFT content. SHAFT stands for sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, and tobacco (CBD--included). Because there are limited age-verification abilities for receiving SMS, carriers aim to protect consumers - especially underage consumers - from being exposed to SHAFT products and marketing. As a result, carriers will block/filter messages that include SHAFT content. At this time, Postscript cannot support brands who sell merchandise that falls in any SHAFT category.
- Incomplete or Unpublished Product Catalog. If your website's catalog is not published, your TFN verification may be denied. Similarly, online stores that are still being built may be rejected by carriers if the website or product catalog appears incomplete.
- Website Not Live or Password Protected. A TFN verification may be denied if your shop’s website is not yet live or password protected and therefore cannot be reviewed by the audit teams. You can expect your TFN status to remain denied until your site is live and can be fully audited. If you downloaded Postscript and were assigned a TFN before your site was live, be sure to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to notify them when your site is live so they can resubmit your TFN for verification.
What should I expect if my TFN verification is denied?
If your brand is experiencing filtering and has had the Postscript app installed for at least 10 business days, please reach out to email@example.com or chat with Support to request re-verification of your TFN.
In the event your TFN verification is denied in error, our team will work closely with you and the verification team to correct your verification status so you can begin sending promptly.
Can I send on an unverified TFN?
Unverified TFNs will be blocked from sending text messages (including Double Opt-In “reply Y” messages, impacting subscriber list growth) to subscribers in the United States and Canada. It should be noted that your brand will not be charged for failed sends due to sending from an unverified number.
Have questions? Please feel free to reach out to our wonderful Support team at firstname.lastname@example.org or via live chat. You can also submit a support request here!
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