Illinois Law to Impact Direct Mail – Here’s What It Means for You

Beginning on January 1, 2024, direct mail sent to recipients in the state of Illinois will have an updated law to comply with. Passed through the legislature as SB 1440 and enacted as Public Act 103-0087, the law requires clearer disclosures on marketing mail. Here’s what it means for direct mail marketing going forward:

Provisions of SB 1440

The law, which can be read in full on the website of the Illinois General Assembly, modifies a portion of the existing Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act to address potential issues with direct mail advertisements.

Under the revised text, it is an unlawful practice to knowingly mail or send or cause to be mailed or sent a postcard or letter to a recipient in Illinois if the following conditions are true:

  1. the postcard or letter contains a request that the recipient contact the sender by mail, telephone, email, website, or other prescribed means; and
  2. the postcard or letter is mailed or sent to induce the recipient to contact the sender by mail, telephone, email, website, or other prescribed means so that goods, services, or other merchandise may be offered for sale to the recipient; and
  3. the postcard or letter does not disclose or disclaim that it is not a bill and that it is a solicitation for goods, services, or other merchandise, that may be offered for sale if the recipient contacts the sender by mail, telephone, email, website, or any other prescribed means; and
  4. the postcard or letter does not disclose or disclaim any and all affiliations or lack thereof.

In addition to meeting these requirements, all of the disclosures and disclaimers required to appear on a postcard or letter must be conspicuously located at the top of the piece, be easily readable in clear and unambiguous language, and be printed in at least 14-point bold-face font in a black-outlined box.

What It Means for You

The language of the updated law requires even more clear disclosures that a piece of marketing mail is, in fact, an advertisement. Postcards and letters – the most common forms of direct mail for marketing – must explicitly state that they are ads, regardless of the type of contact information listed on them, and the disclosures must meet specific format requirements.

This law is more targeted at deliberately deceptive practices, such as fake “final notice” letters that are often sent under the guise of insurance, warranties, or other protection plans for homes and cars. Most marketing mail is already very clear that it is, in fact, marketing some goods or services, since its purpose is to convince would-be customers to make a purchase.

For the majority of companies whose marketing does not attempt to hide its origins or disguise itself as a bill or “notice,” the law is not likely to have a major impact. If you aren’t sure, you may wish to add a disclaimer to your mail piece. You can always talk to the postal experts at Allied to ensure that your direct mail campaigns align with all postal requirements, cost-saving strategies, and best practices!

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