Text scams surge as robocalls decline, report finds

You may have noticed receiving fewer robocalls over the past year, but a new report finds scammers are increasingly using a new way to reach consumers: text messages.

A report from the Consumer Watchdog office of the nonprofit group U.S. PIRG is urging the Federal Communications Commission to pass new rules against robotexts, including requiring phone companies to block illegal text scams.

“Illegal robocalls and robotexts likely will never go away. But they’ll continue to 

plague us as long as enforcement is lax,  phone companies don’t try harder and 

enough consumers fall for scams to make it worthwhile for thieves,” reads an excerpt from the report.

Last year, acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel proposed new rules requiring wireless carriers to block illegal texts.

In a statement released last October, the agency said complaints about unwanted text messages in 2020 more than doubled from the year before. 

“We’ve seen a rise in scammers trying to take advantage of our trust of text messages by sending bogus robotexts that try to trick consumers to share sensitive information or click on malicious links,” said Rosenworcel in last year’s statement.

The top scam texts of last year involved bogus delivery messages claiming to represent Amazon, the U.S. Postal Service or other companies. The messages say an order can’t be delivered or will arrive tomorrow, with a malicious link consumers click, said the Consumer Watchdog report.

Others included fake messages from banks and texts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the number of robocalls has declined over the past year, in part because of FCC rules requiring the use of technology to better identify robocalls and efforts by the agency and states to go after robocallers. 

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