Regulators and phone carriers seem to finally be making some progress in their fight against annoying robocalls.
Companies like AT&T have said they can automatically block robocalls. The Federal Communications Commission said it is ramping up its enforcement against the callers. But spammers have still been sending robotexts.
Spam texts make up less than 3 percent of the total number of SMS messages sent, according to CTIA, a wireless communications industry group. But with nearly 1 trillion texts sent by Americans in 2017, that means the number of unwanted robotexts is still substantial.
Text message spam “is a triple threat,” according to the Federal Trade Commission. Robotexts can be used for phishing by identity thieves or to install malware on a victim’s phone. On some wireless plans, they can also lead to charges for receiving unwanted texts. They can also take up valuable storage space on a phone, slowing it down.
The FTC received more than 93,000 complaints about unwanted text messages last year, The Wall Street Journal reported. T-Mobile said it blocked an average of 1 million texts each day in July, and Verizon said it and its SMS partners have been blocking close to 500 million spam texts each month this year, twice as many as last year.
The FCC recently voted on new rules that ban fraudulent text messages by closing a loophole in the Truth in Caller ID Act, which banned “spoofing” phone numbers.
It is illegal to send unsolicited commercial text messages. The FCC said it was cracking down on illegal robocalls and texts by fining the responsible people and giving the cellphone carriers more power to block them.
But it can be difficult to stop unwanted messages. Just like with robocalls, there are wanted robotexts from legitimate businesses. And people sending the spam may not be in the U.S.
In the meantime, there are ways to minimize the robotext annoyance.
Android phone and iPhone users can also block numbers that send unwanted messages.
The FTC says consumers shouldn’t reply or click on any links in an unwanted text. Even replying “STOP” lets a scammer know you’re a real person with a working number, the Journal reported.
Never provide or even confirm personal information via text, the FTC said. Just delete the texts. Consumers can also forward them to 7726 (SPAM) for free to alert phone carriers.