FINALLY! FCC Acts on SMS Scam-Spam — But Will It Work?

Federal Communications Commission rules to block illegal text messages. What took you so long?

It’s 2023—and the FCC is only now getting around to blocking spoofed SMS. I suppose 30 years isn’t all that long for the federal guv’mint to act, right?

Sadly, this is likely to be as useful as the Commission’s rules about spoofed calls (i.e., not at all). In today’s SB Blogwatch , we ask if it’ll have the desired effect.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: John Williams at 90.


What’s the craic? Jon Healey reports—“ The FCC is cracking down on scammy robotexts ”:

Get-rich-quick schemes
How many text messages have you received lately about a missed delivery of a package you didn’t order? Or a prize you’ve earned for being a loyal customer of a company you don’t use? Or a nonexistent withdrawal just made on your account?

On Thursday, the [FCC] adopted a rule that requires mobile phone companies to block texts that are “highly likely to be illegal.” That includes texts from spoofed or non-working numbers. … The goal is to stop scam texts in the pipeline.

In addition to peddling get-rich-quick schemes and other nuisances, robotexts may be used to trick people into revealing sensitive personal information or installing malware. … The latest order will take effect 30 days after it’s published in the Federal Register, and it may take some time before that happens.

Who will tell us more? Will Feuer will—“ Cellphone Companies Must Block Obvious Scam Texts ”:

Lead generator loophole
U.S. regulators say scam texts have gotten out of control, and it is time for cellphone companies to do more to stop them. … That includes texts from numbers that shouldn’t be sending messages, such as unused and invalid numbers, as well as those that government agencies identify as not for texting.

The rules will also require phone companies to establish a point of contact for texters who believe their text was erroneously blocked. … The FCC said it would solicit public comment to explore other ways it can fight unwanted texts, including through authentication measures and expanding the list of illegal texters.

The agency is also proposing to close the so-called lead generator loophole. That loophole allows multiple marketers to take advantage of a single consent from a consumer to receive text messages and robocalls.

I thought the FCC was deadlocked? Jon Brodkin’s got news for you—“ Requires blocking of texts from invalid and unused numbers ”:

The FCC still has a 2-2 partisan deadlock more than two years into Joe Biden’s presidency, but the robotext order was approved 4-0. [And] more robotext rules may be on the way. … For example, the FCC proposes to clarify that Do Not Call Registry protections [also] apply to text messaging.

The FCC separately voted today to close another gap in its Caller ID authentication rules that target illegal robocalls. The rules already required phone companies to implement the caller ID authentication technologies known as STIR and SHAKEN.

In the meantime? John Callaham—“ FCC is finally requiring wireless companies to block scam text messages ”:

All mobile phone owners can do their part by not interacting or clicking on links from suspicious texts. … They can also forward any suspicious texts to SPAM (7726).

How bad is the problem? itcrowd tries turning it off and on again: [You’re fired—Ed.]

Recently got a US phone number (AT&T), and the literal minute the SIM was in my phone I started getting spam texts and calls. Nobody even had the number yet. I assume it’s either a recycled number or randomly-generated from the spammers’ side.

I’ve had … the same phone number for over 20 years in the EU and have never received a spam call/text. Zero. Nada.

It is baffling how all Americans have put up with this annoyance for decades! Finally, it seems some concrete steps are being taken.

POV: Bob_Who shouting in capslock:

IT’S ABOUT TIME! This is EXACTLY what the FCC should do! A business that sells this service has no excuse. Clearly, they profit from our misery. I guess we’re just a little slow these days when it comes to rules and regulations. Better late than never!

But do we really need this to happen? OldLadyJosie really needs this to happen:

I really need this to happen. I’m sick of waking up every morning to six texts informing me that my Netflix account has been suspended.

I do not have a Netflix account.

Will it work? Don’t hold your breath, says LooseMarmoset :

The dirty secret here is that the major network operators (Verizon, ATT, etc.) don’t really care too much … because they get paid, and paid well, and get to look like they’re doing work to prevent scam[s] while making money.

When these guys tell you, “We can’t see where the call is coming from,” this is a straight-up lie.

So the FCC is wasting its time? Get off Antique Geekmeister ’s lawn:

The technical chicanery in place that allows spoofing is a primary factor in making fraud difficult to trace to its source. I’d not expect this to have any useful effect on what are already criminal and abusive enterprises, with nearly no enforcement of existing laws. The damages are too small to interest any enforcement agencies with the legal authority.

The FBI Computer Crime Lab, for example, does nothing useful with its budget: The evidence is nearly always gathered by outraged people outside the FBI. … Federal agencies legally empowered to act … do nothing about these relatively smaller crimes.

Meanwhile, clackerd worries about unintended consequences:

I hope this doesn’t impact my hobby of leading on the pig-butchering text scammers until they ragequit.

And Finally:

He composed this 40+ years ago

Hat tip: Prestidigitus

Previously in And Finally

You have been reading SB Blogwatch by Richi Jennings . Richi curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites … so you don’t have to. Hate mail may be directed to @RiCHi or [email protected] . Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Do not stare into laser with remaining eye. E&OE. 30.

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Richi Jennings

Richi Jennings is a foolish independent industry analyst, editor, and content strategist. A former developer and marketer, he’s also written or edited for Computerworld, Microsoft, Cisco, Micro Focus, HashiCorp, Ferris Research, Osterman Research, Orthogonal Thinking, Native Trust, Elgan Media, Petri, Cyren, Agari, Webroot, HP, HPE, NetApp on Forbes and Bizarrely, his ridiculous work has even won awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors, ABM/Jesse H. Neal, and B2B Magazine.

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