Monday, April 16, 2012
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“Unsolicited text messaging is a pervasive problem,” said Christine Todaro, a lawyer with the Federal Trade Commission, the consumer watchdog agency, which is turning to the courts for help. “It is becoming very difficult to track down who is sending the spam. We encourage consumers to file complaints, which helps us track down the spammers, but even then it is a little bit like peeling back an onion.”
Have you inadvertently clicked into an unwanted subscription? While most of the subscriptions are harmless, there are some fraudulent, impossible-to-cancel services that are really annoying. Often by texting back “Stop” you are only confirming that it is a real phone number, and you are now stuck with the increasingly invasive text messages. Your best course of action is to just ignore them, or turn them over to the FTC watchdog agency rather than responding to them. According to Perlroth’s article, “Mobile spam is illegal under two federal laws — the 2003 Can Spam Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which set up the Do Not Call Registry in 2003. Smartphone users can report numbers that spam comes from on both the Web sites of the F.T.C. and the Federal Communications Commission. The major wireless carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Bell Mobility and Verizon Wireless — all also offer ways to report the numbers on their Web sites and can block numbers. A number of apps for Android phones also promise enhanced spam text filtering.”
Answering text spams can give access to your personal information, causing possible identity theft. Text spam that tries to get you to reveal personal information is similar to the emails known as phishing. The new mobile version is called “smishing.” In addition, these same text spams may be costing you money if you don’t have unlimited texting on your phone.
Do these spam texts wake you up? If you are like me, my cell phone makes an announcement alert when I get a text message. To avoid being awakened in the middle of the night, I now have to choose to turn off the alerts, or put my phone on silent mode, thus missing any emergency calls I might receive. Argh*%@!!
Legal remedies are beginning to surface. Verizon has brought 20 lawsuits against spammers recently. According to Perlroth’s article, “The F.T.C. tried its first mobile spam case in February 2011 against Phillip A. Flora of Huntington Beach, Calif., accusing him of sending more than five million text messages over a 40-day period at a “mind-boggling” rate of 85 a minute, according to court documents.” Mr. Flora said he charged $300 for every 100,000 text messages he sent. (No wonder he spams. That’s $15,000.) Mr. Flora was also selling the phone numbers to third parties for additional cash. Mr. Flora settled the charges for $32,000 and agreed to cease sending spam texts.
Unfortunately there is no easy solution. Make a list of the spammers numbers and turn them into your cell phone service provider. You can also turn them in to the FTC. But other than that, you are just kind of stuck with them.
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