FCC proposes action against scam text messages

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The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed new rules to help tackle the issue of scam text messages, including the use of the same technology used to power caller ID authentication standards.

The regulator says ‘robotext’ campaigns are becoming increasingly problematic, reporting a surge in complaints from the American public.

It says malicious actors are using seemingly-genuine SMS messages to try and gather information to commit identity theft or to steal login credentials that can be used for other types of fraudulent activity.

US scam messages

Many messages pose as communications from delivery companies, banks and health services, all of which handle sensitive data.

The FCC’s proposals would require mobile operators to block such texts at a network level if they appear to be from an invalid, unallocated or unissued number.

In addition to the technological solution, the FCC also recommends more consumer education, urging the public not to reply to or click links in any suspicious communications and to report the incident to strengthen network level protections.

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

“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.”

In the UK, Vodafone reported a 76 per cent drop in fraudulent text messages after it installed a new SMS firewall.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.