Robotexts are flooding our phones, and the FCC is looking at ways to stop them

Federal Communication Commission Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 05, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission will soon look at a proposal to block robotexts, the agency announced Monday.

Many consumers have become familiar with scam messages by text, such as those claiming to be from a wireless carrier promoting false prizes or reimbursement.

The commission said it saw about 14,000 consumer complaints in 2020 about unwanted text messages, an increase of nearly146% rom the prior year. The agency has already received more than 9,800 consumer complaints about the unwanted texts this year.

FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel told colleagues Monday of the proposed rulemaking to help stem the flood of robotexts, according to a news release. The proposed rulemaking would require wireless providers to block illegal texts.

The move comes after the agency took on the rise of robocalls, which can feature similar scams as robotexts. The FCC implemented several additional measures to protect consumers from robocalls after Congress passed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. The bill allowed the agency to impose greater penalties for the illegal calls and strengthen rules allowing phone companies to block those calls to begin with.

The commission, currently comprised of two Democrats, including Rosenworcel, and two Republicans, would need to vote to take up the rulemaking. If they do, according to the news release, the commission would explore ways to prevent robotexts on the network level and potentially imposing caller authentication standards to texts.

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