FCC Issues Warning to Robotexters

Maureen Mahoney
Policy Analyst

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Nothing’s more frustrating than thinking you’ve gotten an important text, only to find that it’s a text solicitation that you don’t want. Such texts can be particularly frustrating for consumers who are only allowed a limited number of texts per month. And some of them can even be scams, like gift card or other phony offers that sound too good to be true. Typically, scammers use these types of offers to get you to pass along your personal or financial information.

Now, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is making clear in a new advisory that most robotexts are illegal–as are robocalls to cell phones–unless it’s an emergency message, or unless you’ve provided your explicit consent to receive them. There are a few other exceptions: certain exempted messages that are free to you, and texts to collect debt owed to the federal government. You can complain to the FCC about unwanted robotexts and robocalls at www.consumercomplaints.fcc.gov.

If you get a suspicious robotext, such as one that solicits your personal or financial information, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that you take additional steps. Here are some guidelines from the FTC:

REPORT. Forward text spam to your phone company by sending it to 7726, or SPAM. This is a free service designed to help crack down on text spam. After forwarding it, delete the message.

DON’T CLICK. Just ignore any links. They could take you to a page that will try to solicit your personal information.

DON’T RESPOND. Replying just lets the scammer know that there’s a live consumer at the other end. This might lead to more messages. In particular, do not reply with any personal information.

CHECK YOUR BILL. Review your bill carefully to make sure you weren’t charged for the spam message. If you were, contact your phone company.

For further information about robotexts and email spam, check out the FCC’s consumer guide. And to help us in our fight to stop phone spam, please join Consumers Union’s End Robocalls campaign! Almost 750,000 consumers have joined the campaign to demand that the phone companies provide free tools to automatically detect and stop unwanted robocalls. Our campaign also works to make sure the federal government maintains strong legal protections against robocalls and robotexts. Join the movement today!

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