How to handle spam text messages
Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 13:04
You have won a free iPad! Check your credit score for free! Someone has done a background check on you, found out who! Your computer has a virus, fix it now! 4 foods that kill fat and 7 food chemicals that cause it!
We are growing accustomed to seeing these sorts of messages in our email inboxes. They are annoying and are sometimes even harmful to our computers. They do not, however, directly cost us money unless we fall for the scam.
When we start receiving these messages via text on our mobile phones, however, they can cost us real money.
Some people do not pay for unlimited text message packages. These folks many times can’t afford to pay the extra money for unlimited texting and try to make do without it. Some of them may even be billed for each text message individually.
The five or ten cents many providers charge per text message may not seem like a lot of money, but it adds up quickly. If someone without text messaging services on their plan were to receive even just 10 spam texts each day, by the end of the month their bill would have increased by $15 to $30!
Fortunately there are some steps we can take to lessen these unwanted messages, if not prevent them completely.
The first thing you can do to fight against these unwanted text messages is to refuse to give out your mobile phone number.
This may seem obvious, but many times a company will insist that they need it. Places such as the local video store may refuse to rent you movies unless they have your phone number in their records.
Chain restaurants may ask for the number to use in providing you with discounts, free food or other rewards. Many times these are actually really good deals.
In situations like these, you’re really better off signing up with a home phone number if you still have one. Or, you could sign up for a free Google Voice or very inexpensive Skype number that can forward to your mobile phone.
Many phones will even allow you to make calls or texts for free with the Google Voice or Skype number through an app on your smart phone, saving your mobile minutes or texts.
Another less obvious method of preventing spammers from getting your phone number is to refrain from texting numbers you don’t know.
Television commercials and websites entreat you to just text 48457 and the starving Martians on Venus will get 42 free meals or something else just as heartwarming. They fail to mention that they’re going to charge your phone for those 42 meals and then sell your cell phone number to others that want to use it for the same purpose.
Don’t opt-in for texting when signing up for anything and don’t try to opt-out from these texts either. Just text the word STOP to 87654 to stop receiving these messages, they’ll tell you.
DON’T DO IT! This is how they find out for certain that your phone number is real. They have computers set up to send these texts out to random numbers until someone responds.
Once you have sent a message asking them to stop, they might do just that. You won’t receive any more of their messages for cheap Viagra or bell fat pills. But now that they know that your number is real, they will sell it to anyone willing to pay.
In addition to these steps, you can also have your phone number added to the National Do Not Call Registry. It is easy to register your phone number on the list. All you have to do is visit https://www.donotcall.gov and enter your phone number and an email address.
None of these methods will prevent all unwanted text messages. If you accidentally gave your car insurance company, cable provider, dentist or favorite restaurant permission, they can still text you.
If you do follow these tips and use good sense when deciding where and when to share your mobile number, you should be able to avoid most of these annoying messages. If messages still get through, you should report them by either forwarding them to email@example.com or by filing a complaint with the FTC by visiting https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
For more information about the National Do Not Call Registry you can visit their site at https://www.donotcall.gov or the Federal Trade Commission’s informational site located at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt107.shtm.
More information about your rights regarding unwanted email and text messages can be found on the Federal Communications Commission website located at http://www.fcc.gov/guides/spam-unwanted-text-messages-and-email or at http://onguardonline.gov/articles/0038-spam.