Text message blocking rule must not impede legitimate messages

November 15, 2022

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) illegal text message blocking proposal should not affect legal texts from credit unions and other financial institutions, CUNA and other organizations wrote to the agency. The comments were sent in response to an FCC proposal to require mobile wireless providers to block at the network level text messages from scammers purporting to be legitimate businesses but using invalid, unallocated, or unused numbers.

“We support the Commission’s proposal to require Providers to block text messages that are from invalid, unallocated, or unused numbers or those on a Do-Not-Originate list because those messages are highly likely to be illegal,” the letter reads. “At the same time, it is critical that the Commission’s rules do not impede the completion of text messages sent by legitimate businesses to their customers and other consumers. Businesses often send informational text messages when circumstances require an immediate response.”

The organizations note that many financial institutions contact consumers via mobile device, including fraud inquiries and text messages as part of multi-factor authentication.

The organizations urge the FCC to:

  • Exclude “short code” text messages (text messages that businesses send from five- or six-digit numbers registered with CTIA, the trade association representing wireless companies) from any mandatory blocking, unless there is evidence that the sender is illegally spoofing the message.
  • Require Providers to block only those texts that originate from invalid, unassigned, or unused numbers or those on a DNO list until the Commission identifies a class of text messages that have clear indicia of illegality.
  • Require 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.