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Could be Illegal

These Chain letters offer cash, prizes, merchandise or trips in exchange for forwarding the e-mail on to everyone you know or participating in a clever scheme.
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Could be Illegal

Postby chainbreaker on Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:30 pm

Sure, that chain letter you just got promising you a free cell phone if you forward the message to 10 people probably isn't true, but there's nothing wrong with forwarding it, just in case, right? Wrong, turns out you might just be breaking the law when you forward these chains in the U.S.

Several years ago, congress passed the CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) act. Recent revisions to the rules supporting the act define a situation wherein these something-for-nothing offers may actually be violations of the law.

From an e-mail marketing site I frequent:
The FTC clarifies that forward-to-a-friend mechanisms, which have generally been treated as exempt from CAN-SPAM because they are 1-to-1 messages from the original recipient to their friend, may in fact be subject to CAN-SPAM if the originator of the message “procures” the forwarding or if the forwarded message is stored in any way by the forwarding system.


According to the FTC, a message may be seen as “procured” if it “offers money, coupons, discounts, awards, additional entries in a sweepstakes, or the like in exchange for forwarding a message.” If the message makes such an offer, it must conform to all requirements of the law, including giving the reader a mechanism to opt-out of future mailings and providing a valid mailing address. Do you typically do this in e-mails you forward to your friends?
John R. Ratliff
Owner, BreakTheChain.org
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