Monday, April 16, 2012

Cell Phone Spam

Dear Madame L,

I've just started receiving spam text messages on my smart phone. So far, I'm ignoring them --- because, No, Sir or Madam, I'm NOT interested in your body-enhancing whatever or your offer to test another kind of cell phone --- but is there any way I can stop them?

Sincerely,

Bothered


Dear Bothered,

Madame L has been hearing from several friends lately with the same problem, and, just as the rest of us noticed it, fortunately, someone from Slate.com has written about it.

Ironically, though the article is titled "How to stop text spam," author Will Oremus doesn't offer much positive advice for us.

"The latest wave of text scams is a cut above your typical Nigerian bank fraud. Orchestrated by a sprawling network of mainly U.S.-based e-crooks and semi-legal websites, these swindles use confusing privacy notices and fine-print consent forms to lend a veneer of plausibility to attempts to separate you from your personal and financial information. Consider a text that invites you to “Test & keep unreleased iPhone5!” Follow the link and it will admit that some “testing and participation” is required before you claim your prize. It first asks you to confirm your email address, then requests your name, date of birth, phone number, and mailing address. A few clicks later, you’re asked to enter your credit card number so they can charge a small $8.99 shipping fee. By the time you notice you never received your iPhone 5, the website will be gone, and your name, phone number, and credit card number will have entered the vast and lucrative underground market where such information is traded."

What to do about it, though? His answer: "Your surest defense is to avoid replying to any mobile spam and to hold off on typing in your cellphone number on websites you don’t fully trust. That won’t guarantee you immunity, since legitimate sites can be hacked for customers’ personal information, but it’s your best bet."

On the other hand, he notes,  "For those that have been targeted, the good news is that the major wireless carriers offer a litany of potential fixes. The bad news is that, in all likelihood, they won't do you any good."

Here are the "fixes" and "tips" from the wireless companies and FCC:

1) Report spam to your carrier by forwarding the offending message to 7726 (that's SPAM on alphanumeric keypads), then copy the phone number it came from and send that along as well.

2) Report the spam to the FCC.

3) Tell your wireless carrier to block messages from the Internet. 4) Have your carrier block messages from the specific phone numbers that are spamming you.

Madame L would love to hear from other Dear and Gentle Readers who have figured out their own ways to deal with cell-phone text-spams.

Good luck,

Madame L 

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Cut out their hearts with a spoon!