For Immediate Release
FCC ADOPTS ITS FIRST RULES FOCUSED ON SCAM TEXTING
New Action Requires Wireless Carriers to Block Texts from Illegitimate Numbers
and Looks to Develop More Ways to Combat Growing Robotext Problem
WASHINGTON, March 16, 2023—The Federal Communications Commission today adopted
its first regulations specifically targeting the increasing problem of scam text messages sent to
consumers. The new rules will require mobile service providers to block certain robotext
messages that are highly likely to be illegal. Today’s action also seeks input on further
regulatory actions the Commission can take to protect consumers from scam robotexts.
Text message scams are an increasingly pervasive consumer threat, with a more than 500%
increase in complaints in recent years. From 2015 to 2022, robotext complaints rose from
around 3,300 to 18,900 per year. And robotexts pose a unique threat to consumers: unlike
robocalls, scam text messages are hard to ignore or hang-up on and are nearly always read by
the recipient – often immediately. In addition, robotexts can promote links to phishing
websites or websites that can install malware on a consumer’s phone.
The Report and Order adopted today requires blocking of text messages that appear to come
from phone numbers that are unlikely to transmit text messages. This includes invalid,
unallocated, or unused numbers. It also includes numbers that the subscriber to the number has
self-identified as never sending text messages, and numbers that government agencies and
other well-known entities identify as not used for texting. A second rule will require each
mobile wireless provider to establish a point of contact for text senders, or have providers
require their aggregator partners or blocking contractors to establish such a point of contact,
which senders can use to inquire about blocked texts.
Today’s action also seeks public comment on further proposals to require providers to block
texts from entities the FCC has cited as illegal robotexters. It also proposes to clarify that DoNot-Call Registry protections – that is, prohibiting marketing messages to registered numbers –
apply to text messaging and closing the lead generator loophole, which allows companies to
use a single consumer consent to deliver robocalls and text messages from multiple – perhaps
thousands – of marketers on subjects that may not be what the consumer had in mind. The
Commission will also take further public comment on text authentication measures and other
proposals to continue to fight illegal scam robotexts.
While robotexts in general fall under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s limits against
unwanted calls to mobile phones, these new rules establish important blocking rules for mobile
carriers to actively help protect consumers. Meanwhile, the FCC recommends that consumers
take steps to protect themselves from text scams: do not interact in any way with suspicious
texts, click on suspicious links, or provide any information via text or website. In addition,
consumers can file a complaint with the FCC, forward unwanted texts to SPAM (7726), and
should delete all suspicious texts.
Action by the Commission March 16, 2023 by Report and Order and Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 23-21). Chairwoman Rosenworcel, Commissioners Carr, Starks,
and Simington approving. Chairwoman Rosenworcel and Commissioner Starks issuing
CG Docket Nos. 21-402, 02-278
Media Relations: (202) 418-0500 / ASL: (844) 432-2275 / Twitter: @FCC / www.fcc.gov
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official
action. See MCI v. FCC, 515 F.2d 385 (D.C. Cir. 1974).