FCC Moves to Limit the Number of Spam and Scam Texts

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The proposed rule out of the Federal Communications Commission notes such messages should be blocked “at the network level.”

The Federal Communications Commission filed a notice in the Federal Register on Friday seeking public feedback on proposed regulations that would require mobile carriers to reduce the number of illegal spam text messages. 

The FCC’s notice of proposed rulemaking suggests that mobile phone providers should “block text messages at the network level (i.e., without consumer opt in or opt out) that purport to be from invalid, unallocated or unused numbers and numbers on the Do-Not-Originate list.”

The proposal, which is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Oct. 11, was approved by the FCC last month in a 4-0 vote after the agency’s consumer advisory committee submitted a report on Aug. 30 outlining steps that could be taken to combat the increasing number of illegal and unwanted text messages. 

Spam and scam text messages have become an increasing threat to U.S. consumers over the past few years, with often nefarious senders using them as a way to steal private information and money from recipients. 

The FCC’s Robocall Response Team previously issued a consumer alert in July warning that spam robotexts, in particular, were leading to “substantial increases in consumer complaints.” According to data from RoboKiller, a call and text blocking app, more than 15.6 billion spam texts were sent in September—almost 57 spam texts for every person in the U.S.

“The American people are fed up with scam texts, and we need to use every tool we have to do something about it,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement following the proposal’s initial release on Sept. 27.

The notice of proposed rulemaking, in part, seeks public input on “the extent to which spoofing is a problem with regard to text messaging and whether there are measures the commission can take to encourage providers to identify and block texts that appear to come from spoofed numbers.” The FCC is also soliciting feedback on what steps could be taken to block spoofed texts, as well as proposals that would require mobile phone carriers to implement caller ID authentication standards for text messages. 

Public comments on the FCC’s proposed rulemaking are due within 30 days of the notice being published in the Federal Register, with reply comments due within the succeeding 15 days. The FCC will review public input before drafting any final rules.