The new FCC ruling sends carriers a very real message about stopping robospam scripts

Something small: Earlier this week, the FCC issued its first ruling dealing with illegal robospam and texting practices. The new directive requires mobile service providers to block potentially illegal messages from invalid, unallocated, unused or blocked numbers. The decision is designed to provide all mobile phone users with similar levels of protection, regardless of the mobile phone provider they choose.

The new rules, which were officially adopted on March 16, provide explicit instructions for wireless carriers to protect consumers from fraudulent and illegal text messages. Scams, also known as bot scripts, have become a prevalent problem over the past several years. Unlike automated calls, bot scripts can use many strategies to exploit unsuspecting users, from social engineering to fraudulent but authentic-looking links and information.

Sharp increases in reported cases and loss amounts prompted the FCC to take recent actions on behalf of all mobile device consumers. According to the authority’s statement, the number of roboscam rose from 3,300 in 2015 to nearly 19,000 in 2022. The accompanying report notes consumer losses due to fraudulent text messages the total $231 million during the first three quarters of 2022. The staggering number represents an increase of 62% compared to 2020.

The new rules require carriers to block messages suspected of fraudulent activity based on their point of origin. The scope of the provision applies to text messages originating from the North American Numbering Plan and numbers specified and included in the “Reasonable Do Not Generate” (DNO) plan.

The DNO Plan is offered by Service Providers and includes invalid, unallocated, unused numbers and any blocked numbers previously dialed by users. In addition to blocking plans, carriers must have a designated point of contact for individuals to report messages that have been blocked by mistake.

The scope of the new provision applies to wireless networks that use short message service (SMS).short message) and multimedia messaging service (MMS) platforms. It does not cover over-the-air (OTT) messaging services that depend on existing internet services such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.

Despite the new rules, mobile subscribers shouldn’t just rely on their carrier’s new responsibilities to stay protected. The announcement references previous FCC recommendations and guidance for mobile consumers who look forward to it Protect themselves from scam messages. It includes tips and advice on what types of activity to monitor, how users can protect themselves from scams, information about current FCC actions, and links to additional information about bot scripts and other scams.

Based on the FCC’s announcement and comments, the new spam provision is the first of what could lead to many future actions aimed at further protecting mobile subscribers.

The FCC statement concluded, “The committee will make further public comments on script authentication measures and other proposals to continue combating illegal botnet scripts.”

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