BOSTON — The amount of spam text messages to our phones has exploded in the last 18 months, and consumer advocates say the FCC’s action this week against phone carriers couldn’t come quick enough.
“Honestly, it’s about darn time,” said Teresa Murray with U.S. PIRG, a consumer watchdog. “I don’t know why it took them this stinking long to do something.”
The FCC voted Thursday to require phone providers to block text messages from suspicious sources including phone numbers that appear to be “invalid, unallocated, or unused.” Carriers will also have to block text messages coming from phone numbers that claim not to ever send text messages.
Murray hopes consumers will notice a reduction in robotexts within the next 60 days.
“The bad guys don’t care about violating the law. The only way to really deal with the problem is to go after the phone providers,” Murray said.
The FCC launched a Robocall Mitigation Database in April 2021 under the 2019 TRACED Act to stem the number of fraudulent phone calls, but the law didn’t apply to text messages. In June 2021, Americans received around 1 billion spam texts a month. That number shot up to 15 billion in Jan. 2023 and 10 billion in Feb. 2023.
Massachusetts residents received more than 541 million spam texts in Jan. 2023, compared to just 112 million in Jan. 2021, according to data from Robokiller.com.
“What happened is the [FCC] law took effect in 2021, then all the bad guys went over and said, ‘Hey, we’ll just send texts. We’ll just send scam texts to people,’” Murray said.
The FCC has a section on its website dedicated to advising consumers on how to deal with robocalls and robotexts, including call blocking tools and resources.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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