New US legislation put in place to stop robocalls and spoof texts.

2 min read
January 03, 2020
phone showing unknown sender

Americans were subjected to over 48 billion robocalls last year. As a result, the US Government has pushed through a bipartisan bit of legislation to stop them.

The legislation is called the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act and it’s designed to shut down illegal robocalls by getting phone carriers to stop robocalls before they ring.

It also gives the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) a few more powers to help stop the annoying spam. The FCC is the US regulator for interstate communications by radio, TV, wire, satellite and cable (fulfilling a similar role to Ofcom in the UK).

What’s in the legislation?

  • The bill extends the FCC’s statute of limitations on robocall offenses and increases potential fines.
  • It sets out a requirement for rules to protect consumers from spam calls and texts. These rules are already being worked on.
  • The FCC will check in annually to report on how the legislation is being enforced. Then they’ll be able to recommend legislation if it’s necessary.
  • The bill puts the onus on carriers to stop call spoofing.
  • It opens up the possibility for offenders to be prosecuted.

Will it work?

This is the big question. There’s some doubt as to whether the FCC will be able to act quickly enough to effectively enforce the law. Previous fines haven’t really affected the spam call industry much – the new, larger fines might not make a difference.

That being said, it’s still a huge step forward and might offer some relief for people who’ve had enough spam calls to last a lifetime.

What can I do about spam texts in the UK?

Never respond

If you reply to a spam text, it lets the scammers know you exist. They’ll most likely send your number on to other scammers! It’s best to never reply to these texts or interact with them in any way.

Don’t click any links or give out any details

This is pretty self-explanatory. Never trust a spam text.

Register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS)

The TPS is a free service that lets you opt out of unsolicited sales or marketing calls. It doesn’t stop texts (and illegitimate callers will probably ignore it anyway), but it’ll trim down the frequency of sales calls you get.

Google your phone number

This’ll tell you if your number is publicly available for scammers to scrape. It could be on your social media! Check your privacy settings etc. It’s best to set it to be hidden to the public.

Report the spam text to your network operator

You can do this by forwarding the text to 7726. You won’t be charged.

Report the matter to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

The ICO is the UK’s independent authority for data privacy. They’re generally responsible for enforcing things like this.

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