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FCC Continues to Crack Down on Robotexts and Calls

September 28, 2022 by Madeline Hughes
FCC Continues to Crack Down on Robotexts and Calls
The emblem of the Federal Communications Commission.

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission continues to crack down on pesky scam calls and texts with new proposed rules and international partnerships announced this week.

“The American people are fed up with scam texts, and we need to use every tool we have to do something about it,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement.  

“Recently, scam text messaging has become a growing threat to consumers’ wallets and privacy. More can be done to address this growing problem and today we are formally starting an effort to take a serious, comprehensive, and fresh look at our policies for fighting unwanted robotexts.”

The commissioners voted to kick off a rule-making process that would potentially require cellphone carriers to apply caller ID authentication standards to texts and require carriers to block illegal texts at the offset.

“We also seek comment on the extent to which spoofing is a problem with regard to text messaging today and whether there are measures the commission can take to encourage providers to identify and block texts that appear to come from spoofed numbers,” according to the rule-making notice.

“In addition, we seek comments on applying caller ID authentication standards to text messaging.”

According to the commission, robocalls have been the source of the most complaints the commission has received — more than 43,000 complaints as of May. And as of June, there were 8,500 complaints of scam texts submitted to the commission as well.

Scam texts have been increasingly harmful to Americans because they can include phishing links. Those harmful links and messages helped criminals steal $86 million from Americans in 2020, according to the commission.

“Texts can include links to well-designed phishing websites that appear identical to the website of a legitimate company and fool a victim into providing personal or financial information. Texted links can also load unwanted software, including malware that steals passwords and other credentials, onto a device,” the commission wrote in its rule-making notice.

“Scam texts, like scam calls, may involve illegal caller ID spoofing, i.e., falsifying the caller ID information that appears on the called party’s phone with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain something of value.”

The commission has been cracking down on these robocalls since October 2021 when the bipartisan Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act went into effect. The law gives the commission greater regulatory authority to crack down on these types of calls and texts, levying heftier fines.

The commission has been using that authority to go after spam callers.

In May, the commission implemented a new rule requiring more stringent caller ID for calls placed to Americans from outside the country.

The commission has also been working with foreign allies to thwart these types of calls. In May the commission announced a partnership with Canada. In September, when the commission renewed its telecoms partnership with the European Union, it also added fighting robocalls to their shared values.

Just this week the commission announced new partnerships with Brazil and Romania to also combat these calls.

Madeline can be reached at maddie@thewellnews.com and @ByMaddieHughes

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