Text Message Spam

Text Message Spam

Millions of cell phone users receive spam text messages or short message system (SMS) daily.  Not only are the spam text messages irritating, some of them may contain malware and viruses designed to infect your phone and steal personal information.  And none of the messages actually comes from the companies referenced in the spam! With one tap on the phone, smartphone users risk signing up for bogus or impossible to cancel services!

How did the spammer get my phone number? is a frequently asked question.  Sometimes messages appear because a spammer just guessed phone numbers and you were one of the lucky ones.  The spammers search the web for cell phone numbers or they use software or websites to generate random numbers from a particular area code.  Often, the spammers use computers to generate millions of cell phone number combinations and then send messages to those numbers without knowing whether they are working numbers.  If you are on a limited plan, these spam text messages could be using precious minutes of your plan.  You should contact your cell phone carrier to determine what steps you should take to have these messages blocked, and if any charges were incurred, what you should do to have the charges removed.

If you receive an unsolicited text message:

·         Resist the temptation to open the text message.

·         If you do open the message or it opens automatically, do not click on the links provided in the text message.

·         Do not reply to unsolicited texts.  Do not send the “STOP” message as suggested because it alerts the spammer that they have reached a working number.

·         Most smart phones SMS apps include a feature that allows you to permanently block or blacklist future SMS text messages from the sender or from a domain.

·         Put your phone’s area code number on the Do-Not-Call list.

Texting spam is prohibited under two federal laws, the Can Spam Act of 2003 under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  Violations can be reported to both agencies and/or you can file a complaint with the FCC if you receive an unwanted message on your smartphone or you receive a solicitation if your phone number is registered on the national Do-Not-Call list (which includes North Dakota and South Dakota registration.)

Contact the Federal Communications Commission at:

Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division

445 12th St SW Contact

Washington DC 20554 or

1-888-225-5322

 

Your best defense to unwanted text messages is to avoid replying to any mobile spam and to refrain from giving your cell phone number on websites that may request your contact information.  Even if you are on a legitimate website, there is no guarantee that your personal information is safe from hackers.

 

The North Dakota Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division investigates allegations of fraud in the marketplace.  Investigators also mediate individual complaints against businesses.  If you have a consumer problem or question, call the Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-800-472-2600, or 1-800-366-6888 (w/TTY).  This article and other consumer information is located on the North Dakota Attorney General’s website at www.ag.nd.gov.


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