What is Mobile Phone Spam?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
The trouble with mobile phone spam is that it is not only annoying, but it can also be expensive.
The trouble with mobile phone spam is that it is not only annoying, but it can also be expensive.

Mobile phone spam is alternately called SMS spam or m-spam, and is an abuse of the text messaging services most people receive with their mobile phone. Most people who own a cell phone are already quite familiar with this type of spam. Such spam usually comes in the form of text messages that may be advertisements, or in worse cases, be attempts to scam the mobile phone user.

Text messages provide a quick and convenient way to send short messages without needing to make an actual phone call.
Text messages provide a quick and convenient way to send short messages without needing to make an actual phone call.

The trouble with cell phone spam is that it is not only annoying, but it can also be expensive. Some people pay to receive text messages. In 2006 for instance, Sprint® was sued for sending text message spam and advertisements for their own company to their customers. Since each message cost $0.10 US Dollars (USD) to receive, this was a means for Sprint to make more money from its customers, without their permission. Sprint settled and was ordered by a California court to stop this advertising and to reimburse customers who’d been charged for their mobile phone spam techniques.

It may be necessary to contact a person's cell phone company if he or she is having problems with phone spam.
It may be necessary to contact a person's cell phone company if he or she is having problems with phone spam.

There are some laws in the US that may limit advertisers’ rights to use mobile phone spam in the form of text messaging. The federal acts, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, and CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 can regulate some of the cell phone spam you might receive. Unfortunately, these acts are not enforced with great regularity. State laws, like the ban of mobile phone spamming in California, and strong laws in Ohio that protect consumers against SMS spam have been enacted, and these are judged usually more effective than CAN-SPAM. Australia and Hong Kong both have laws specific to prohibiting cell phone spamming too, but in many countries and in parts of the US, this type of spam is hard to fight and difficult to investigate.

Seniors are a regular target for mobile phone spam and scams.
Seniors are a regular target for mobile phone spam and scams.

Sometimes mobile phone spam is not just advertising but purposeful acts attempting to defraud consumers. This is the case when people leave numbers, which are toll numbers, which will then be charged to the cell phone user's bill. Another type of spamming is the collection of information, when a person is told to call a number, and in doing so, may be asked to give personal information about him/herself, or the very fact that he/she returns the call is used to establish the cell phone number is genuine.

In any case, if you are receiving mobile phone spam or junk texts on a regular basis, you might want to discuss this with your cell phone company to see if they have any plans to combat it. If you receive spam email on your phone you can use filters which may help alleviate the problem. Another thing you can do is change your phone number. It may be helpful to register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry in the US, which at the least will keep the legitimate spammers (advertisers) from messaging you in most cases.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon73129

I got crazy guy calling in Arabic and limited English for more than six hours in one day - evening till 2 a.m. at night. The guy used two phone numbers and kept calling me almost once a 20 minutes and total of his call was about 30 times including 2 SMS. He called me again in this morning before 9 a.m.

He said, "Hello, good night really i like your voice and i hope to hear you again and know more about you like your name and how old you are? Good night and good dream with angel my name is ahmed and my number is ..."

naj

If you want to block phone spam don't even think about asking your carrier. Your carrier makes good money from every connected spam call and every delivered spam text message. Instead use some third party blocker services, most of them offer to download phone spam blocker for your cell. I use NumberCop. They support a wide range of devices.

anon57989

Mobile phone spam is really horrible. I got a lot of spam messages and calls at any time (early morning, night). But found how to solve this problem. I've installed Call Control for my blackberry and it works good.

pocurana

Sprint is my cell phone carrier. I just started to get spam texts saying that my Farmer's and Merchant Bank debit card has been deactivated. I've never had a F&M account. I've been getting two or three bogus texts a day for the last 3 or 4 days. Sprint provides a way to block texts if you log in to your account online, but unfortunately that link is broken right now. So I called their customer service, but they said that they can't do anything until these fraudulent text messages post to my phone bill. Once they post, I can call them again and they'll refund me any overage charges I received as a result of the spam texts and block all text messages from that domain going forward. What a hassle! I hear AT&T and Verizon are better at blocking spam texts, but at least there's a way with Sprint. I heard T-Mobile isn't very helpful in this area either.

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    • The trouble with mobile phone spam is that it is not only annoying, but it can also be expensive.
      The trouble with mobile phone spam is that it is not only annoying, but it can also be expensive.
    • Text messages provide a quick and convenient way to send short messages without needing to make an actual phone call.
      Text messages provide a quick and convenient way to send short messages without needing to make an actual phone call.
    • It may be necessary to contact a person's cell phone company if he or she is having problems with phone spam.
      It may be necessary to contact a person's cell phone company if he or she is having problems with phone spam.
    • Seniors are a regular target for mobile phone spam and scams.
      Seniors are a regular target for mobile phone spam and scams.