If you’re being plagued by cell text message spam (cell phone spam or mobile phone spam) like this one we received from 702-541-4047 – “Do you have $20,000+ in CREDIT CARD DEBT? Our national program REDUCES it by HALF! Reply “DEBT” to see if you qualify! (cuturdebts.com-optout,reply:out)” – you’re not alone. (What does SMS stand for? Short Message Service – SMS service is a way to send short text messages directly to a cell phone). The problem is that those unwanted SMS messages that you see as cell phone spam, the sender sees as an SMS campaign. Those rude text messages – often anonymous SMS text messages – are bulk SMS messaging sent by the SMS sender as a text message advertising campaign (often facilitated by free SMS text message services that allow the SMS sender to send anonymous text messages). It’s illegal to send SMS text spam in most states, but figuring out how to go about reporting spam received on your cell phone can be tough. Here’s how to submit your spam that you receive via SMS text message to the right authorities, as well as how to stop it.
It’s important to understand one little-known ‘feature’ of SMS cell phone spam – the vast majority of it is actually sent from the Internet, spamming the email-to-cellphone text messaging gateways that nearly every cell phone carrier maintains. What this means is that your cellphone has an email address, and if people know the magic addressing formula, people can send text message via email to your cell phone. For example, if you are an AT&T customer, your cell phone’s email address is:
Similarly, if your carrier is Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Nextel, your phone’s email address is:
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Once understanding this, you can go about defeating text message spam a couple of different ways.
You can simply block all text messaging, which is what most front-line cell phone service customer service representatives (CSRs) will suggest up front. But as more and more people have given in to text messaging as a form of instant communications with family, friends, and even colleagues, that is not always a terribly practical way to go.
But there’s another way.
At least some cell phone providers offer the option to block only text messages that come from the Internet, and as the vast majority of cell phone text message spam comes via these Internet email-to-mobile phone gateways, blocking just Internet-to-cell text messages will reduce the amount of SMS spam you receive to a tiny fraction of its former self.
Both AT&T and Verizon offer this service. At the time of this writing, Sprint and T-Mobile don’t offer a wholesale “no text messages from the Internet”, but they do offer ways to deal with text messages that originate on the Internet.
So, call your cell provider and ask them how you can stop receiving text message that are sent via the Internet. Here are the customer service numbers for the major providers in the U.S., but if you’re outside of the U.S., or have another U.S. provider, by all means you should call them and ask if they offer such a service:
AT&T Customer Service: 800-888-7600
T-Mobile Customer Service: 800-866-2453
Verizon Customer Service: 800-275-2355
Sprint Customer Service: 888-211-4727
Nextel Customer Service: 800-639-6111
Now, how to go about reporting that cell phone spam:
First and foremost, call your cell phone provider and complain, loudly, to them. And while you are doing so, ask for a credit for the text message received. Even if you don’t pay for the first X text messages you receive under your plan, ask for a credit so that the spam message doesn’t count towards X.
Next, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is tasked with both creating policy regarding, and policing, cell phone communications, including spam. And they have a special form online through which you can submit your SMS spam, here:
So, call your provider, file your report, and take back your phone!
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