Spammers Turn to Text Messages

By: Stacy McCloud
By: Stacy McCloud

Knoxville (WVLT) - For years now you've had to deal with telemarketers clogging up your home phone lines, spammers filling up your email in-boxes and now it looks like this trend is making its way to your cell phones.

Volunteer TV's Stacy McCloud brings you a closer look at this new trend and how you might stop it.

Next time you get a text alert you may find it's not from someone in your address book, but a phone number or e-mail you've never seen before.

One survey found 18 percent of US mobile phone owners have received text messages from spammers.

May sound like a low number, but if you're charged for every message in your inbox, it certainly adds up.

"Talk about how they provide free texting but if you charged per text, you could really get some hefty fines," says Jack Brundidge, Director of Sales for US Cellular.

US Cellular says they aren't aware of any spam blockers for text messages, only for emails coming to your phone.

So what can you do?

Of course, you can dispute any charge with your provider.

You'll also want to check with them to make sure they don't give your number to any third party vendors. If you are on a list, of course ask to be removed.

And be careful who you text. If you text a business you're opening yourself up to receive spam.

You can put a block on your phone from receiving any text messages, or even block specific phone numbers or emails.

But that likely won't work since spammers can be rather creative.

"They will just send it from several different emails or phone numbers," says Brundidge.

In the meantime, when you do get text spam, don't reply and report them to your cell phone provider.

In 2003, congress enacted what is called the can-spam act, keeping spammers from sending unwanted e-mail messages without permission.

Mobile providers are fighting the same battle, but for now the unwanted text messaging problem isn't predicted to disappear anytime soon.

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