The Federal Communications Commission is cracking down on spam texts with a new rule requiring phone providers to block texts that appear to come from numbers unlikely to send the messages.
The new rule is the first FCC regulatory action aimed directly at spam and scam texts.
The numbers required to be blocked include invalid, inactive and unused numbers, as well as those identified by the phone number’s owner, a well-known public entity or the government as never sending texts.
In addition to blocking the spam texts, service providers or their blocking contractors will be required to establish points of contact so that text senders can inquire about their blocked texts.
Spammers hide their calls through the numbers and have rapidly increased the volume of unwanted messages. Yearly robotext complaints rose from 3,300 in 2015 to 18,900 in 2022.
Americans so far this year have received 14.3 billion spam texts in January and 10.7 billion in February, according to robocall and robotext blocking app Robokiller.
The messages are hard to ignore, since recipients look at texts more often than they pick up robocalls, and are dangerous because text messages can contain harmful links to malware.
“Given this growth, failure to act could lead to robotexting to become so pervasive that it negatively affects texting, just as robocalls have done for phone calls. … The item we adopt today will require providers, at the network level, to take important steps to stop robotexts before they reach consumers,” FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said.
In addition to the new regulations, the FCC is seeking public comment on additional measures that would extend the Do Not Call Registry to texting and would prevent companies from using a consumer consent to their own texts to then allow marketing texts from others selling items the initial consumer may not be interested in.