The American Banker Association led a group of trade groups in expressing support for the Federal Communication Commission’s proposal to require mobile wireless providers to block text messages that are that are from invalid, unallocated or unused numbers, or those on a “do-not-originate” list, in a recently submitted comment letter. The FCC proposed the requirement to combat the proliferation of text messages by bad actors who illegally “spoof” phone numbers belonging to banks and other legitimate businesses in order to defraud customers. The FCC also tentatively concluded that providers should implement a caller ID authentication framework for text messages to mitigate illegal number spoofing.
While expressing support for blocking illegal text messages, the trade groups also urged the FCC to protect text messages sent by legitimate businesses. Specifically, the trade groups asked the FCC to exclude “short code” text messages (i.e., five- or six-digit messages from vetted numbers) from any mandatory blocking, unless there is evidence that the sender is illegally spoofing the message. The groups also asked the FCC not to expand its text-blocking mandate unless the agency identifies a class of text messages that have clear indicia of illegality, and to ensure that IP-based texts are protected. In addition, the groups urged the FCC to require mobile wireless providers to provide immediate notification when a sender’s text message has been blocked and to resolve disputes immediately, and no later than six hours after receiving the dispute.