Federal Communications Commission Takes Steps to Block Illegal Robotexts

By Greg Tavarez February 24, 2023

The Federal Communications Commission is known for taking steps to combat robocalls, more so with the adoption of STIR/SHAKEN used to combat illegal caller ID spoofing. And the FCC (News - Alert) is not messing around when it comes to protecting Americans against illegal robocalls; they are not afraid to cut off service providers from other networks if they fail to meet requirements.

These actions look good on paper, but the fact remains that robocalls remain a significant problem for U.S. consumers.

But it’s not just illegal robocalls that U.S. consumers are victims of. They also fall victim to robotexts, which tend to be the preferred method of communication among consumers, especially in younger generations. Consumers receive illegal text messages that mention missing packages, payment confirmations and links to websites with a gift card prize. Through these means, illegal robotexts are used to collect information such as credit card or Social Security numbers.

This put the FCC in a peculiar position, thus prompting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to propose new rules to protect consumers from text messaging scams.

The new rules, if adopted by a vote of the full commission at its March Open Meeting, require blocking of text messages that purport to be from numbers on a Do-Not-Originate list. That means providers are to block texts that purport to be from numbers for which the actual subscriber has said it does not send legitimate text messages. (Including government agencies and other well-known entities.)

A second rule requires each mobile wireless provider to make public a single point of contact for text senders. Another rule also extends Do-Not-Call Registry protections, i.e. prohibiting marketing texts to registered numbers, to text messaging and close the lead generator loophole. The FCC describes this as something that allows companies to use a single consumer consent to deliver robocalls and text messages from multiple marketers on subjects that may not be what the consumer had in mind.

“These scam robotexts are a part of everyday life for too many of us,” said Rosenworcel. “I’m asking my colleagues to join me in adopting the first FCC rules to focus on shutting down scam texts. But we’re not stopping here because we are going to keep at it and develop more ways to take on this growing consumer threat.”

The FCC again shows its commitment to protecting U.S. consumers, but these rules don’t clearly lay out a roadmap. There are questions that remain as to if these rules lead to something that prevents scam texts or if they come across hurdles that inevitably block out legitimate texts. Only time will tell.

Edited by Alex Passett
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