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The FCC is finally cracking down on robotexts

File this under news that’s good for everyone — except for.

On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission adopted its first rules(Opens in a new tab) targeting spam text messages that have plagued all mobile phone users for years. The FCC will now require mobile service providers to “block certain robotext messages that are highly likely to be illegal,” said the announcement.

Specifically, this means texts that from numbers “that are unlikely to transmit text messages,” including numbers that invalid, unallocated, or unused and numbers from subscribers haven’t previously sent texts or aren’t used for texting.

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To help identify scam texters, the FCC also requires providers, their partners and their contractors to “establish a point of contact” for these numbers so that senders can “inquire about blocked texts,” the announcement continued.

According to the FCC, from 2015 to 2022, annual robotext complaints surged from 3,300 to 18,900 — a 500 percent increase. But you already knew that since you’ve probably received tons of scam texts in recent years.

Robotexts are sneakier than robocalls. While robocalls are irritating, they’re easier to spot and ignore. Text recipients might be more willing to open a text, which is sometimes enough to expose unassuming targets since it validates your number to scammers.

And then actually clicking a link from a robotext — maybe from an unknown number with your same area code, a message that appears to be from your bank, or a package delivery notification — can lead to smishing attempts or installing malware on your phone.

In today’s announcement, the FCC is also seeking public comment on a proposal to close a loophole clarifying that the Do Not Call Registry protections also applies to text messages. The adopted rules will go into effect six months after the rules are approved by the Office of Management and Budget and published in the Federal Register. So, it will take some time before this goes into effect, but help is on the way.

More in Cybersecurity, FCC