In a move to combat the growing problem of scam text messages, U.S. regulators have adopted new rules that put responsibility on wireless carriers to block them.
The Federal Communications Commission now requires mobile service providers to block certain robotexts that are "highly likely to be illegal," such as messages from invalid, unallocated, or unused phone numbers.
Robotexts have become frustratingly common, as it's gotten easier for scammers to impersonate businesses.
According to Robokiller, an app that blocks spam messages, Americans received nearly 12 billion spam texts in March of last year alone.
The FCC says complaints about text message scams have increased more than 500% in recent years, from around 3,300 in 2015 to nearly 19,000 in 2022.
“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,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement.
The agency is also weighing additional regulations, like using the Do-Not-Call registry protections to block unwanted text messages.
Meanwhile, the FCC is urging consumers to take steps to protect themselves, such as:
- Don't respond to suspicious texts, even if the message requests that you "text STOP" to end messages
- Don't click on links
- Don't provide any information via text or website
- File a complaint with the FCC
- Forward unwanted texts to SPAM (7726)
- Delete all suspicious texts
- Update your device operating system and security apps
- Consider installing anti-malware software
- Review companies' policies regarding opting out of text alerts and selling/sharing your personal information
- Review text blocking tools in your phone settings, available third-party apps, and your mobile phone carrier's offerings.