A young woman looking at a smartphone frustrated by a robotext.

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FCC wants to tackle the flood of spam texts on your phone

The FCC has tackled robocalls, now wants to look at robotexts

 

Andrew Wyrich

Tech

Published Oct 19, 2021   Updated Oct 21, 2021, 9:39 am CDT

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to crack down on the flood of robotexts that have been showing up on people’s phones.

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Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel shared proposed rulemaking with colleagues on Monday that would require mobile carriers to block illegal text messages.

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In a statement, the FCC said it received around 14,000 complaints from consumers in 2020 about unwanted text messages, a 146% jump from the year before. So far this year, the FCC has received nearly 10,000 similar complaints from consumers.

In recent months, AT&T and Verizon customers have noticed an uptick in scam text messages.

The messages included a message that thanked users for paying their monthly bill and offered them a “little something” or “little freebie” for doing so. The scam texts also included a link that one user said leads to a website offering Apple Airpods for answering a “few quick questions.”

The FCC said RoboKiller, a spam blocking app, reported recently that 7.4 billion spam texts were sent in March of this year.

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“In a world where so many of us rely heavily on texting to stay connected with our friends and family, ensuring the integrity of this communication is vitally important,” Rosenworcel said in a statement. “We’ve seen a rise in scammers trying to take advantage of our trust of text messages by sending bogus robotexts that try to trick consumers to share sensitive information or click on malicious links. It’s time we take steps to confront this latest wave of fraud and identify how mobile carriers can block these automated messages before they have the opportunity to cause any harm.”

The agency’s proposed move to tackle robotexts comes after months of it focusing on robocalls. In March, the FCC fined two Texas-based telemarkerters $225 million who used robocalls to offer fake health insurance plans.

Meanwhile, in June the FCC set a deadline for providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN technology on their networks. The technology allows phone companies to verify caller ID information and a caller’s phone number. The FCC described the technology as a way for caller IDs to be “signed” as legitimate by originating providers and validated by others before they reach a customer.

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Around the same time, the FCC announced that it had reached an agreement with its Australian counterpart to work together to fight robocalls.


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*First Published: Oct 19, 2021, 9:50 am CDT