Although the bill was passed nearly eight years ago, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 is still in full effect today. It serves as a constant reminder that getting involved with spam is not only bad for your reputation but downright detrimental to your email marketing efforts.

So what are the risks of not meeting CAN-SPAM compliance? Here are some of the penalties that indicate how serious this thing is:

Hefty Fines – If federal authorities have to get involved, your business could find itself much lighter in the pockets. A single violation can hit you for up to $16,000, but then again, that might be a best case scenario. In 2008, a man found guilty of spamming Facebook users was fined over $800,000, setting the example that CAN-SPAM compliance not only relates to email marketing.

Seizure of Your Property – Use spam to commit what has been deemed to be a serious crime and you could lose some very important assets. This may include property like computer hardware and software programs as well as any personal property authorities are able to connect to the crime.

Imprisonment – Failure to meet CAN-SPAM compliance could also result in the loss of your freedom. You are subject to jail time when registering email accounts and domain names under a false identity, sending messages with falsified header information and using another computer without authorization to distribute commercial email. In 2007, a man was sentenced to 70 months in prison for violating the act.

Executing a CAN-SPAM Compliant Marketing Strategy

Hopefully the severity of these penalties are enough to convince you that CAN-SPAM is nothing to play around with. Fortunately, there are three simple things you can do to make sure your email marketing campaigns remain compliant:

Be Transparent – Your email communications should be as transparent as possible. Make sure your “From” field, domain name and sending address are authentic and reveal you or your company as the sender. Extend this transparency to your subject lines, ensure that they are genuine and do not trick the recipient into thinking your message is something that it isn’t.

Provide an Easy Way in and an Easier Way Out – As an email marketer, you want to take full advantage of the opt-in process, including the part that allows recipients to opt-out of your communications. Make it easy for subscribers to get off your list and stop sending them mail within the 10 business day time frame to avoid trouble.

Always Include Contact Information – You can keep your campaigns in compliance with CAN-SPAM by simply including your contact information in every message. It may not seem like an important requirement but, by law, you must provide a way for recipients to get in touch with you.

Spammers are persistent little scoundrels, but CAN-SPAM has shown us that not all of their activities will go unpunished. Getting hammered once is bad enough, but the penalties are even worse for those in repeat violation of the law. If you don’t want to feel the wrath of the potentially crippling consequences, educate yourself, read up on the act and make it part of your email marketing strategy.