Two years ago, I got a text message from a number with a Las Vegas area code. Spammers’ lists of numbers have been multiplying as they shift their focus from email to mobile phones to take advantage of cellphone companies’ weaker spam filters.
” Follow the link and it will admit that some “testing and participation” is required before you claim your prize.
It first asks you to confirm your email address, then requests your name, date of birth, phone number, and mailing address.
A few clicks later, you’re asked to enter your credit card number so they can charge a small $8.99 shipping fee.
” “You have 1 unread message from your secret crush! I ignored some, replied “STOP” to others, and even tried calling back in the vain hope of confronting my tormentors. I’ve long known not to click the links in spam emails, but 10 years of spam-free cellphone ownership had lulled me into complacency when it came to texts.
Every buzz meant another text message charge on my bill. As I belatedly realized, a reply of any kind confirms to cellphone spammers that they’ve reached a working number—which they can then sell to other spammers.
The volume of text spam remains comparatively small, because those spammers who are just trying to sell a product—Cialis, say, or fake Rolexes—have largely stuck to email, which remains the cheaper option. The latest wave of text scams is a cut above your typical Nigerian bank fraud. S.-based e-crooks and semi-legal websites, these swindles use confusing privacy notices and fine-print consent forms to lend a veneer of plausibility to attempts to separate you from your personal and financial information.Consider a text that invites you to “Test & keep unreleased i Phone5! The past three years, however, have brought a proliferation of cheap, prepaid cellphone plans with unlimited text messaging. In 2009, Americans received some 2.2 billion text messages that they identified as spam, by the estimate of Richi Jennings, an independent market analyst. But even that figure doesn’t capture the biggest boom, which has come in just the past few months, according to Cloudmark, a San Francisco-based firm that provides messaging security for major wireless carriers. But that method was easily stymied, because wireless companies can separately track and filter such messages. There were ways around the charges, like sending the spam messages from the Internet rather than a mobile phone. Text spam used to be rare in the United States because, compared with the email equivalent, sending texts was expensive.