Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the federal government agree on at least one issue: robotext scams are getting out of hand. In January 2023, Texas AG Paxton and 50 other state attorneys general sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging it to require mobile wireless providers to block illegal text messages at the network level when the messages appear to be from invalid, unallocated, or unused numbers, and numbers on a do-not-call list. While the FCC considers rule changes, there are a few things you can do right away to cut down on the number of spam texts you receive.
Scammers are “increasing their focus on text messaging schemes,” shifting away from robocalls and toward “consumers’ most favored method of communication—text messaging.” According to the FCC, data indicates that consumers “read nearly all texts they receive, and they do so nearly immediately.”
In 2020 alone, scammers stole over $86 million through spam texting fraud schemes, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The median amount stolen from consumers in such scams was $800. All of this is bad news for consumers and a challenge for regulators.
FCC rules already ban text messages sent to a mobile phone using an autodialer, unless the recipient previously gave consent to receive the message or the message is sent for emergency purposes.
In September 2022, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, proposing rules to “require mobile wireless providers to block texts, at the network level, that purport to be from invalid, unallocated, or unused numbers, and numbers on a Do-Not-Originate (DNO) list.” The FCC also sought comment on (i) what steps it could take to identify and block texts from spoofed numbers and (ii) applying caller ID authentication standards to text messaging.
In January 2023, Texas AG Paxton joined a multistate letter in support of the FCC’s proposed rules, which state attorneys general see “as a crucial first step in bringing text blocking requirements in line with call blocking requirements.”
Until the FCC adopts new rules, or federal and state authorities ramp up enforcement efforts, there are a few things you can do right away to cut down on the number of spam texts you receive.
- Block the spammer’s phone number. This isn’t a panacea, of course, but at least you won’t receive spam from that phone number again.
- The FCC suggests reporting scam texts to your wireless provider by forwarding unwanted texts to 7726 (“SPAM”).
- Sign up for both the Texas No-Call List (which covers text messages) and the National Do Not Call Registry (which also covers text messages).
- File a complaint with the Texas Attorney General, the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and/or the Federal Trade Commission.
If you decide to file a complaint, keep in mind that not every unwanted text is illegal. There are federal and state exemptions to the do-not-call rules. For example, under FCC rules, political text messages can be sent without the intended recipient’s prior consent if the message’s sender manually dials them (as opposed to using autodialing technology, which would violate FCC rules).
 Tex. Bus. & Com. Code § 304.002(10) (“telephone call” is defined to include text messages).