February 13th, 2013

If you have a tablet or smart phone, chances are that is has changed the way you shop and interact with others. Retailers know this as well, and have poured millions of dollars into the research and development of special applications (apps) to make it easier to track how you spend money, what you look for in a product (or service) and how much time you take in searching for what you need.

Retailers are also interested in reaching you in strategic, personalized ways, so mobile marketing has grown radically over the last three years. In essence, a greater number of advertisements are driven to cell phones and tablets through text messages.

While some welcome the practice, others lament it; especially when unsolicited text messages (also known as “text spam”) causes consumers to rack up obscene data fees. However, consumers have a way to protect themselves. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, retailers are essentially prohibited from sending text messages or other sales alerts to consumers without their permission.

In prior posts, we have reported on how HSBC, Lucky Brand Jeans and Target have been subject to class action lawsuits due to TCPA violations.

Wells Fargo Bank is the latest entity to be investigated for alleged TCPA violations. It offers a “text banking” feature that ostensibly allows customers to receive account information upon request via text message. The feature is different from the web application and smart phone app that allows customers to view their balances and make basic deposits. Instead, customers would receive alerts when a transaction has been completed, or their balances fall below a certain amount.

A number of consumer advocate groups are researching whether customers are being rolled into such programs without their consent. We will continue to follow the story as it develops.

Source: TopClassActions.com, Wells Fargo text message class action lawsuit investigation, February 13, 2013

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