The government crackdown on robocalls has pushed con artists to resort to robotexts.
Since the new federal law took effect in June 2021, scam and unwanted robocalls have dropped in half.
But the law didn’t apply to robotexts. The number of robotexts has risen from 1 billion a month in mid-2021, to 12 billion a month in mid-2022, to 15 billion a month in January 2023. Of fraud cases reported to the FTC last year, 22 percent of scammers used a text to contact potential victims.
Only in recent months has the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed new rules that would require phone providers to filter scam robotexts just like they must do with scam robocalls.
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel noted that many of us are peppered with scam texts about packages that are supposedly lost or delayed, confirmation of payments that actually didn’t happen, links to scam websites and texts from someone who supposedly sent the text to the wrong person accidentally.
“These scam robotexts are a part of everyday life for too many of us,” Rosenworcel said in a statement. “I’m asking my colleagues to join me in adopting the first FCC rules to focus on shutting down scam texts. But we’re not stopping here. Because we are going to keep at it and develop more ways to take on this growing consumer threat.”
The FCC on March 16 will consider the scam text rules, as well as ways to tighten rules to combat scam robocalls.
It may be getting better, but, unfortunately, we’re going to need to be on guard for scam calls and texts for a long time. Below we have advice on how to deal with them, which are both a nuisance and a threat.
Consumer Watchdog, U.S. PIRG Education Fund
Teresa directs the Consumer Watchdog office, which looks out for consumers’ health, safety and financial security. Previously, she worked as a journalist covering consumer issues and personal finance for two decades for Ohio’s largest daily newspaper. She received dozens of state and national journalism awards, including Best Columnist in Ohio, a National Headliner Award for coverage of the 2008-09 financial crisis, and a journalism public service award for exposing improper billing practices by Verizon that affected 15 million customers nationwide. Teresa and her husband live in Greater Cleveland and have two sons. She enjoys biking, house projects and music, and serves on her church missions team and stewardship board.