Keen to start promoting your business through SMS? As well as getting the proper consent from subscribers, you also need to be aware of DND numbers and the implications that can arise from texting them for promotional purposes.

Read on to learn what DND numbers are, why you need to regularly check your subscriber list for them and how to carry out such checks.

What are DND numbers?

DND is short for 'Do Not Disturb'. Several countries around the world have DND registries in place with telecom operators to protect consumers from unsolicited phone calls and texts.

A DND phone number is one that's been added to one of these registers – anyone can add their number for free if they want to avoid telemarketing calls and SMS messages.

Why you need to check for Do Not Disturb numbers

It's against the law for businesses to carry out telemarketing to DND numbers. This is why you must check whether a phone number is listed as DND prior to calling or texting for promotional purposes before making that first contact.

It's also important to know this because even if your subscribers have opted in to receive SMS marketing, some may still be registered on a DND register. In which case, marketing texts are not guaranteed to get through to the recipient.

Therefore, such subscribers will need to remove themselves from the DND list to ensure they can receive your text messages.

What happens if you send SMS to a DND phone number?

Failure to comply with 'Do Not Disturb' regulations for promotional messages carries serious consequences.

In India, for instance, TRAI regulations state that breaches could result in the sender having their telephone connection disconnected and personal details being blacklisted for two years.

In the United States, the National Do Not Call Registry requires telemarketers to search the register at least every 31 days to refresh their databases and remove any new DND numbers.

Any person who receives telemarketing activity despite being registered can file a complaint – and violations can result in fines of up to $16,000 per incident.

That particular penalty is hefty, but the National Do Not Call Registry does allow for inadvertent mistakes providing you can prove that your company has adequate processes in place to verify the error and ensure it doesn't happen again (read point 62 of these FAQs).

We recommend that you read the relevant regulations (applicable to where your subscribers are based) to understand what's needed to make your promotional SMS messages legal.

SMS compliance concept

Exceptions: when you can legally text DND numbers

Note that the rules around texting DND phone numbers relate to promotional SMS only. This means you can send transactional SMS to numbers on DND lists.

A transactional SMS message is one that's essential to conducting business – and the customer experience. For example, order confirmations, payment and appointment reminders, PIN code requests or debt collection requests are all business-critical communications.

Your organisation type may also affect whether you can legally send a marketing SMS to these numbers. E.g. the National Do Not Call Registry doesn't cover SMS or calls from charities and political organisations.

How to check for DND and non-DND numbers

So, we've established it's essential to check the mobile number for subscribers before sending promotional SMS messages (and continue checking on an ongoing basis). Here's how to do that:

1. Determine which DND register applies

This means analysing your database and checking which country your subscribers or customers reside in.

2. Visit the relevant register

Depending on the registry, you may need to create an account and pay a fee to access the database. This is the case with the National Do Not Call Registry. Here are links to the main DND registries:

3. Look up numbers

Each registry will require you to download and screen DND files against your contact list (and they'll also provide instructions on how often you need to do this). When you do identify that you're holding numbers registered as DND, you'll need to remove them from your list asap.

There are several websites online where you can check the DND status of individual numbers. However, we can't vouch for the credibility of these. Plus, if you have a large database of subscribers, it's simply not efficient to check numbers one by one.

How to de-register a DND number

De-registering a DND number is straightforward. It's typically a case of calling or emailing the registry in question. Here are some shortcuts below:

  • For the U.S. National Do Not Call Registry, call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to remove from the list.

  • To remove a phone number from the TPS, email

  • To de-register from the TRAI, call 1909 or text 'STOP' to this number.

DND letters on a keyboard

Protect consumers – and your business

DND registries are there to protect consumers who have decided against receiving SMS marketing. Your responsibility as a business owner sending marketing texts is to respect consumers making that choice and remove DND phone numbers from your subscriber list.

We have a wide range of articles on our blog to help you achieve SMS campaign compliance. Why not read this article about unsubscribe laws next? We think you'll also like The Expert's Guide to Brilliant SMS Marketing.

Ready to start sending SMS campaigns with Messente? Get started quickly (and for free) by creating an account here.