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The FCC is finally doing something about scam texts

Published Mar 17th, 2023 3:00PM EDT
Jessica Rosenworcel, Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Image: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

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In a news release this week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it has finally adopted regulations targeting scam texts. The FCC’s new rules require mobile service providers to block any robotext messages that are likely to be illegal.

New FCC rules target scam texts

As the FCC notes, text message scams are an increasingly prevalent threat to consumers. In fact, from 2015 to 2022, robotext complaints increased from around 3,300 to 18,900 a year. Also, while spam calls are relatively easy to ignore, texts aren’t. Regardless of the content of a message, we almost always read any texts we receive as soon as they arrive.

“Scam artists have found that sending us messages about a package you never ordered or a payment that never went through along with a link to a shady website is a quick and easy way to get us to engage on our devices and fall prey to fraud,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel told Gizmodo in an emailed statement on Friday regarding the new rules.

According to the news release, mobile service providers will be required to block text messages “that appear to come from phone numbers that are unlikely to transmit text messages,” including “invalid, unallocated, or unused numbers.” Providers will also have to establish a point of contact for users that send texts or have their aggregator partners or blocking contractors do so. Anyone who sends a text can use these to inquire about blocked texts.

The FCC is also seeking public comment on further proposals, such as requiring providers to block texts from entities the FCC has cited as illegal robotexters and clarifying Do-Not-Call Registry protections to prohibit marketing messages to registered numbers.

At the very least, something is being done about the scourge of scam texts.

The FCC tells Gizmodo the rules will take effect six months after the Federal Register publishes the approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act. In the meantime, the FCC recommends every consumer take steps to protect themselves from text scams.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.