Susan Tompor: As robocalls get blocked, text messages could be next big thing for scammers: What to know

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

The Federal Communications Commission has a Sept. 28 deadline for phone companies to report their robocall-blocking status or else their calls will be blocked by other companies.

Even so, research by the PIRG Education Fund released Wednesday showed that among 49 of the largest phone companies nationwide — those that can serve 1 million or more customers — there were only 16 companies that have reported to the Federal Communications Commission that they have completely implemented anti-robocall technology.

Teresa Murray, consumer watchdog for PIRG Education Fund, said phone companies are not required to block texts at this point but the FCC and industry leaders are working on it.

Murray noted that spam apps aren't as good right now at filtering texts but ultimately more advancement could be ahead.

RoboKiller, one large robocall filtering company, said consumers received 7.65 billion spam text messages in August. That's up 8% from 7.07 billion in June.

She noted that FCC rules ban text messages sent to a mobile phone using an autodialer unless you previously gave consent to receive the message or the message is sent for emergency purposes. For commercial texts, your consent must be in writing.


Why we're vulnerable

Scammers could be tracking our habits, too, knowing that we're texting more and very often extremely distracted when we're doing so.

AT&T noted in an alert online: "These days you may be using your cell phone more for texting than for making calls. So, you're probably accustomed to getting short, brief texts that sometimes don't make sense or come from companies or organizations."

The AT&T alert highlighted winning a prize in an Earpods raffle.


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