New Rules Proposed by FCC Chair to Fight Scam Robotexts

New Rules Proposed by FCC Chair to Fight Scam Robotexts

The chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Jessica Rosenworcel, has announced new rules aimed at combating the growing problem of text message scams. If the agency’s commissioners approve the proposed rules at a meeting in March, providers will be required to block robotexts that are “highly likely to be illegal,” Rosenworcel said in a statement.

While the FCC has yet to release the full text of the proposal, the new rules will compel providers to block text messages that appear to originate from numbers on a do-not-originate list. This list includes unused, invalid and unallocated numbers, as well as those that government agencies and other reputable entities say they do not send texts from. According to the FCC, messages from these numbers are “highly likely to be illegal, and no consumer would want to receive them.”

In addition, providers would have to block text messages from entities that the FCC has identified as sending illegal robotexts. The proposed rules also require providers to expand National Do Not Call Registry protections to include texts, which will prevent consumers from receiving unwanted marketing messages.

Rosenworcel explained that the proposal aims to eliminate scam robotexts from everyday life, such as messages that report missing packages that don’t exist, confirmation of payments that didn’t happen, links to shady websites, and truncated “wrong number” messages from strangers. She urged her colleagues to join her in adopting the first-ever FCC rules aimed at tackling the issue of scam texts, adding that the commission will continue to develop additional ways to address this growing consumer threat.

The proposal comes after the FCC took measures to curb robocalls. The issue of text message scams and robocalls will be on the agenda for the FCC’s open meeting next month, alongside other topics such as a proposed framework for increased collaboration between terrestrial mobile network operators and satellite service providers. This framework aims to bolster phone service in areas where it is lacking, which could be useful for life-or-death situations in remote areas. Certain devices, like the iPhone 14, already offer satellite connectivity for emergency use.