Text Spam Has Arrived!

April 8, 2012

Written by wukovits

I pay a decent amount for my cellular phone bill.  It’s typically the same each month for two lines, both with unlimited everything, so when it’s time to write that check (or submit my online payment), I’m rarely surprised.  I got a shock last month when I noticed that my bill was a bit higher, so I started looking deeper into the itemized charges and saw something that I surely didn’t know about.  A service called BULLROARE had charged me $9.99 as a monthly subscription on my second cell phone line.  There was a link available on my bill, which lead to a company called mBlox (https://mblox.com), which is a mobile marketing company.  That means they use cell phones for advertising for their clients.  While I’m no stranger to cell phone advertising via text messages, what I surely didn’t know is how easily it can find you, trick you, and have you paying money that you might not have realized you were paying.

Text SpamText spammers can get your phone number through a variety of means, but like with your email address, sharing it by registering for contests or online forms can often lead to unsolicited text messages.  In my case, I fell victim to an even more insidious type of text spam, one that actually was costing me money on my cell phone bill.  The usual method to cancel these types of messages, texting “STOP” or “NO” in reply, is not recommended, as it then verifies your device number to these unscrupulous advertisers.

There is a way to help combat text spam, as the mobile industry has enlisted the help of Cloudmark, a maker of antispam software.  A reporting service lets users forward the mobile spam they receive to “7726”, which spells “SPAM” on most keypads.  These texts will then help mobile carriers to block these spam text messages.

Of course, mobile spam is illegal, and there are a few websites you can use to report the numbers from which you are receiving these text spam messages.  The FCC (https://www.fcc.gov/guides/spam-unwanted-text-messages-and-email) is a great place to start, and the link I’ve provided will fill you in with all the details on how to report these unsolicited messages.

This, by no means, will stop the spammers.  They make big money, as email spammers do, sending you advertisements that can yield them big money.  One way they can profit is by sheer numbers of messages sent, for which they are paid by the advertiser.  When millions of messages are sent, even a small percentage of people might bite at the ad.  Compounding this profit can be people who fill in forms they are sent to, getting more information from them, sometimes tricking them into revealing private info that can help them to gain access to bank accounts, credit cards, and more.  Bottom line: there wouldn’t be spam if there weren’t a huge amount of money at stake for the people doing it.

I was lucky in that I was able to catch the culprit on my first cell phone bill.  I have unlimited text messaging, but other folks might not, and as annoying as getting a spam text can be, imagine if you got charged by your cell phone provider for receiving it?  Either way, text spam is here, and it isn’t going away.  Know how to combat it and prevent it and be a couple of steps ahead in the battle against spam.


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