AUSTIN (KXAN) – On Monday, 51 US Attorneys General, including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, sent a letter in support of the Federal Communications Commission urging wireless providers to block illegal, fraudulent text messaging.

The letter from the AGs noted the FCC had worked tirelessly to hold wireless services accountable for reducing robocalls but noted that bad actors shifted their tactics to text messaging.

“In 2021, the FCC received more than 15,000 consumer complaints about unwanted texts and, in 2020, scammers stole more than $86 million through frauds perpetrated via scam text messages,” Paxton said.

The FCC has sent over 20 warning letters to voice service providers admonishing them to cease any support of illegal robocall traffic or face serious consequences. They report these efforts have been largely effective as most providers affirmed they cut ties with the fraudulent callers.

The AGs said text messaging scams are sometimes more harmful than robocalls as consumers see texts nearly instantly and often include well-designed links that mimic trustworthy websites. The Enforcement Bureau, the unit responsible for enforcing FCC provisions, has taken more aggressive actions against the providers who did not, according to the FCC.

“Simply stated, no wireless subscriber should be receiving any voice call or text message from these numbers,” AGs letter stated. “It is our hope that the Commission will consider adopting and integrating other similarly successful blocking and mitigation mandates for players in the robotext ecosystem in the near future,” it continued.

In the meantime, here are tips from the FCC on how to respond to robocalls and texts:

  • Do not answer calls from unknown numbers.
  •  Do not respond to suspicious texts, including do not “text STOP” to end the messages.
  •  Be aware that spoofed calls may use caller ID from local exchanges or trusted entities.
  •  Do not provide any personal or financial information to unexpected callers.
  •  Be wary of text messages with misleading or incomplete info, misspellings, sales pitches, or mysterious links.
  •  Do not click on any links or provide any info via text or website.