Can text message spam be forever cast into the darkness from whence it came?
November 11, 2007 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone had any luck in stopping text message spam? [Cingular/ATT, Treo 650]

I'm getting positively (or negatively, as it were) bombarded. Today I received 23 spams, as a mix between MMS and plain text. This has been going on for months and is getting progressively worse.

I've called "customer service" several times now and all I get is the same fairly uneducated response: "Send them a message back and tell them you want to unsubscribe." Not so much, and it certainly costs more to do so. I've been on the Do Not Call registry since its inception. They've begrudgingly refunded the cost of some spams, but not all. It has been a bit sad when I have to explain to the tech folks what a spam filter is, so I have no clue as to whether they actually are using any.

Have any real useful solutions been discovered, save transferring to another carrier or not canceling texting altogether?
posted by moonbird to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your phone service is probably the one selling your information to the spammers. Their advice to write back the spammers is ridiculous, since that will only cost you more money and it is useless. See if you can opt out of every single marketing gee-gaw you have associated with your phone and every other vendor you deal with. The problem with all marketers is that you are considered automatically opted in unless you specifically ask to opt out. Opt out of everything you can-- get off junk mail lists, get on the Federal Do Not Call list, tell your bank, credit card companies to opt you out, notify the DMV you do not want your information sold, opt out at all the credit reporting bureaus. It will mean less junk mail and spam and it will also lessen your visibility to possible identity theft.
posted by 45moore45 at 7:40 PM on November 11, 2007

Do they often a white-listing service so you can set it up to receive mails only from the addresses you have approved?
posted by gomichild at 7:44 PM on November 11, 2007

You might look for programs that offer black-list or white-list solutions so that you stop receiving the messages, but I am almost 100% positive that you will still be 'charged' for these messages since your provider will process them. These just block them on the phone level. I have not heard of any type of spam filter for SMS on the phone level or on the provider level. I imagine, as it becomes a larger problem, they will incorporate something.

I remember getting a piece of junk-sms a couple months ago, but never again. As a matter of a fact, it was a text saying, your password is 'F45GeF' Went to the website and sure enough, my phone number and that password let me in to 'my' account. No way to cancel it. Some scam to get you to purchase products or whatever. Make sure you are not entering you number into any websites for mobile services, such as web to phone sms solutions, or 'free ring-tones.'

Keep in mind, it may not be you that supplied them with your number. You can probably bet that you have friends that use websites to manage contacts and who knows if they sell or use your information for other purposes.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 7:45 PM on November 11, 2007

Any company that follows the MMA guidelines will respond to a few key words. Try STOP or QUIT.

Of course, if the spammers aren't "legit" companies - ie if they are TRUE spammers, not companies that think they legitimately are sending you things - these keywords may not work. In this case, keep talking to the carriers. They DO have the ability to stop services and refund them (I have AT&T and they've done this for me).

It helps if you know the short code (the 5-digit code that the messages are coming from). AT&T should have a list of all short codes, and they should be able to tell you which company is sending you which message, and you can take it from there.

It is a hassle, for sure.
posted by nkknkk at 7:48 PM on November 11, 2007

I just cancelled text messaging completely on my phone. If you have that sort of leisure at your job then I recommend it.
posted by monkeymadness at 7:51 PM on November 11, 2007

Also, there are two former threads that may be helpful:
here and especially here
posted by nkknkk at 7:53 PM on November 11, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses. I should have elaborated on what the spams actually look like. They are not coming from phone numbers but rather the spoof email addies typical of spam farms. Domains include .hu, .ro, .tw, etc., and it's the usual discount Cialis/weightloss crap. So I am less inclined to ask them to stop since these are apparently of the hardcore pesterment variety.
posted by moonbird at 8:04 PM on November 11, 2007

Is it that you can read email on your phone and that your phone has an email address? If it's email spam that's delivered to your mobile, then the only really good solution is for your carrier to run anti-spam filters.

I get just as much email spam as anyone else but absolutely zero SMS spam: here in AU it costs to send SMS but nothing to receive it.

If you're being charged to receive SMS or MMS spam, I can understand you'd be pretty pissed at the situation! If it's just email spam though and the only cost to you is data charges (hopefully not too much), can you run spamassassin or similar on the treo?
posted by polyglot at 8:43 PM on November 11, 2007

Response by poster: That's a thought... but I'm pretty sure the spams are getting to me by spammers knowing the fairly easy formula to send an email that becomes a text. For example, I think what's happening to me is that they're emailing, which then becomes a text to my phone (not something I'm getting by using email on the Treo). But that's certainly an intriguing idea.
posted by moonbird at 8:49 PM on November 11, 2007

Can you disable the email gateway functionality on your account? Sounds like it wouldn't break your normal email access (likely uses SMTP and IMAP over GPRS or similar) or normal MMS/SMS messaging.
posted by polyglot at 11:11 PM on November 11, 2007

AS far as I know you cannot completely cancel text messaging on cingular/at&t. When I looked into that the only thing they said they could do was take them off my plan so instead of 200/month. i pay like 15 freaking cents for everyone one. Sometimes i hate cingular
posted by DJWeezy at 5:15 AM on November 12, 2007

Since you have a Treo 650 (PalmOS, right?), there's a perfect solution for you: CallFilter

It lets you define rules for accepting/denying SMSes (as well as phone calls) based on time of day, the sender's phone number, keyword text, etc. I've set mine to auto-delete any SMS that doesn't come from somebody in my phone book.

It also works GREAT for quashing stalkers, 3:00AM drunk-dialers, etc.

(This sort of functionality makes it really hard to dump my old/busted Treo 650 for a sexy new iPhone...)
posted by LordSludge at 8:34 AM on November 12, 2007

@ LordSludge

Don't dump your old/busted Treo 650 for a sexy new iPhone.. Dump it for a PPC, such as the HTC TyTan(6800, Mogul).
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 4:25 PM on November 12, 2007

Best answer: If this is still being monitored... Try logging into AT&Ts text messaging website (actually setting up a username and such). Many of these services provide a way to block specific short code SMS messages. I'm positive Verizon does it but not sure about other carriers.

Also, make sure you don't pay a penny for those charges. Make it abundantly clear that you have attempted to block the messages.
posted by Octoparrot at 10:08 AM on November 13, 2007

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