• Tech

    Anyone Not Adding Disclaimers to the Their Text Messages With Clients Is Probably Asking for It

    By | December 3, 2016

    Text messaging is right up there in the realm of great communication inventions. It's so engrained in our lives that we barely even think about it, but if it went away, we'd all be FURIOUS.

    Sure, it's butchering language and yes, people who text and drive should suffer a public shaming, but until we starting breeding with Betazoids, it's probably the best way to get in touch with someone quickly and conveniently.

    Texting does have its quirks, however. Like how your mom sends those messages that take two scrolls to read and when "Dad" appears at the end of a text, you can't help but roll your eyes.

    But now, thanks to a recent post from the AICPA, we've learned of a new annoyance in the world of texting: legal liability! Yes, no one ruins things quite like an accountant. Here's an actual quote from an actual accountant from said post:

    “No one knows if clients are retaining hard copies of text messages. That could create a liability problem down the road,” said [Gerard Schreiber Jr., CPA]. “It’s no longer unusual to receive client communications and inquiries on tax matters by text message—and the client expects an immediate answer.”

    I just rolled my eyes so hard my hair fell out. I can tell you whether or not clients are retaining hard copies of text messages — they're not! So, yes, I suppose there's a liability risk but here's an idea: don't respond! Or say, "I'll respond by email, it requires some explanation." Boom, your problem is solved. Just like this:

    “One client texted me as I was trying to go to sleep one night, asking about borrowing against funds they had in an account, or using them to invest.” Schreiber recalls. It’s a risky conversation to have by text. “The client had revealed the amount of money they had in the account over an insecure communication channel. I wasn’t about to compound the error by answering over text message.”

    Right, there's also the possibility that your client is dumb. Best keep a standard disclaimer handy on your phone's notebook.


    • You know, adding a lengthy disclaimer to every text message with a client is probably an excellent way to get them to stop texting you.

      • Auditor4Now

        Another way is to block them. That’s ridiculous. Clients should know that email is the correct form of communication.

        • Big4Veteran

          Actually, email is the devil. I bet I could find plenty of corporate litigation attorneys who would agree with me on this.

    • Reasonable Assurance

      Sounds like a sole prop. problem.

    • Big4Veteran

      I think Colin was joking about this, but those disclaimers that eveyone puts at the bottom of their emails nowadays are complete bullshit. They don’t hold up in a court of law. At best, they may serve to discourage some recipients who don’t know any better.

    • Big4Veteran

      I think text messages can be recovered by cell phone carriers. At least, I believe the government can get to these for investigating things such as terrorism. If text messages are subpoenaed in a court case, can the cell phone carrier be compelled to turn over this evidence?

    • sludgemonkey

      Who is the AICPA and who gives them so much power? When I have doubts about operating my practice, I check with HorniestPartner for advice. He is always up some action.