Action 9

‘Beyond annoying’: Robotexts on the rise as regulators crack down on robocalls

CHARLOTTE — A new technology designed to prevent robocalls may give way to a different annoyance -- an increase in robotexts.

Like many people, Yma Arrington feels like her phone is constantly buzzing with numbers she doesn’t recognize.

“They’re beyond annoying,” she said. “A week? I couldn’t even tell you. A day? Over 100.”

Lately, Arrington has noticed more robotexts popping up on her phone.

“Receive $5,000 today, quick cash loan with any credit-type approval,” one of the texts to Arrington read.

Consumer advocates worry this problem will only get worse. Earlier in 2021, the FCC launched a new tool to combat robocalls, and thousands of companies have registered to use the technology.

The advancement is helping to reduce robocalls, consumer advocates said, but the new rules don’t apply to text messages. The company Robokiller estimates Americans will receive 86 billion robotexts this year -- 55% more than were sent last year.

“Both my husband and I just in the last two or three weeks have been getting a handful of text messages,” said Deirdre Cummings, a representative with Massprig, a consumer watchdog group. “We’re going to have to go back and the FCC is going to have to look at that. How do we provide those same protections against -- the ones we have for robocalls should be applied to text messages.”

Robotexts may be on the rise, but Cummings said the good news is it doesn’t seem like people fall for a text message as easily as an actual phone call.

“It’s harder to scam you with a text message, but it can be just as dangerous, so you want to make sure if you get a text message from someone you don’t know, ignore it,” Cumming said.

Ways to prevent robotexts:

  • Don’t respond.
  • Some phone companies allow you to block the sender by forwarding the robotexts to 7-7-2-6 or S-P-A-M. Check with your service provider to see if that is an option.
  • When signing up for a product or service, read the privacy policy. If you need to provide a phone number, check or uncheck the box to opt out of receiving texts.

(WATCH BELOW: Action 9: NC and SC ask phone companies to help you block robocalls)