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 phone providers to block potentially illegal messages from invalid, unassigned, unused or blocked numbers. The ruling is designed to provide all mobile users with similar levels of protection, regardless of the chosen mobile carrier.
The new rules, officially adopted on March 16, provide explicit instructions for wireless service providers to protect consumers from fraudulent and illegal text messages. Messaging scams, also known as robotexting, have become a frequent problem in recent years. Unlike robocalls, robotic text messages can employ various strategies to exploit unsuspecting users, from social engineering to fraudulent but authentic-looking links and information.
Sharp increases in reported cases and loss amounts prompted the FCC to recently take action on behalf of all mobile consumers. According to the Commission statement, the number of complaints of roboscam pink from 3,300 in 2015 to almost 19,000 in 2022. The accompanying report cites consumer losses due to fraudulent text messages totaling $231 million through the first three quarters of 2022. The staggering number marks an increase of more than 62% compared to 2020.
The new rules require mobile operators to block messages suspected of fraudulent activity based on their point of origin. The resolution scope applies to text messages originating from the North American Numbering Plan and numbers identified and included in a “reasonable” non-originating (DNO) plan.
Providers submit a DNO plan and it includes invalid, unassigned, unused numbers, and any blocked numbers previously requested by your users. In addition to blocking plans, carriers should have a specific point of contact for people to report wrongly blocked messages.
The scope of the new standard applies to wireless networks that use the short message service (SMS) and multimedia messaging service (mmm) platforms. It does not cover over-the-top (OTT) messaging services that rely on existing Internet services, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.
Despite the new rules, mobile subscribers should not rely solely on their carrier’s new responsibilities to keep them protected. The announcement references the FCC’s previous recommendations and guidance for mobile consumers seeking protect themselves from the scam messages. It includes tips and advice on the types of activity to watch out for, how users can protect themselves from scams, information on current FCC actions, and links to additional information on text bots and other scams.
Based on the FCC’s announcement and comments, the new bot text spam rule is the first of what could result in several future actions aimed at further protecting mobile subscribers.
“The Commission will also take further public comment on text authentication measures and other proposals to continue to combat illegal fraudulent bot text messages,” the FCC statement concluded.