The new FCC ruling sends a very real message to cell carriers to stop robospam texts

In one word: Earlier this week, the FCC issued its first ruling to address robospam and illegal text messaging practices. The new directive requires mobile providers to block potentially illegal messages from invalid, unassigned, unused or blocked numbers. The ruling is intended to ensure similar levels of protection for all mobile users, regardless of the mobile provider they choose.

The new rules, which were officially adopted on March 16, give clear instructions to wireless carriers to protect consumers from fraudulent and illegal text messages. Texting scams, also known as robotexting, have become a prevalent problem over the past few years. Unlike robocalls, robotexts can employ several strategies to exploit unsuspecting users, from social engineering to fraudulent but authentic-looking links and information.

The dramatic increase in reported cases and the amount of losses has prompted the FCC to take recent action on behalf of all cellular consumers. According to the commission’s announcement, it has increased from 3,300 in 2015 to almost 19,000 in 2022. In the first three quarters of 2022, consumer losses due to fraudulent text messages totaled $231 million, according to the Commission’s announcement. It is the most shocking indicator. Increased from 62% compared to 2020.

The new rules require mobile operators to block suspected fraudulent messages based on their point of origin. The scope of the decision applies to text messages originating from the North American numbering plan and numbers identified and included in a “reasonable” Do Not Originate (DNO) plan.

The DNO plan is provided by the providers and includes invalid, unallocated, unused numbers and any blocked numbers previously requested by its users. In addition to blocking plans, operators should have a point of contact for individuals to report mistakenly blocked messages.

The scope of the new ruling applies to wireless networks that use Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) platforms. It does not include over-the-top (OTT) messaging services based on existing Internet services such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.

Despite the new rules, mobile subscribers shouldn’t rely solely on their carrier’s newfound responsibilities to stay protected. The announcement echoes the FCC’s previous recommendations and guidance for cell phone consumers who want to protect themselves from fraudulent messages. It includes tips and advice on what types of activity to watch for, how users can protect themselves from scams, information on current FCC actions, and links to more information on robotexts and other scams.

Based on the FCC’s announcement and comments, the new robotext spam ruling is the first of what could be a series of future actions to further protect mobile subscribers.

“The Commission will also take additional public comments on text authentication measures and other proposals to continue to combat illegal fraudulent robotexts,” the FCC statement concluded.

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