Why am I getting spam text messages? How to report text spam so that you can get it to stop, plus what the law says.
I’ve been ignoring text spams on my phone for too long.
It started out with just one text spam out of the blue that I quickly erased. Then I began seeing them every other month. Now I am receiving text spams about once a week.
The most recent one was from Sender 42227 and read,
“Official Reward Notice: claim your $1,000 Walmart gift card at www.hyprdrct.com/r/?s-1449&a=206798 Keep GAPC txt act active.txt stop 2 end”.
Aside from the nuisance of having these spam messages in my queue, the most annoying part about these spam messages is the feeling that each time I receive an unsolicited message it might be costing me money ($0.10 here, $0.20 there).
I finally called my cell phone provider last week to discuss my concerns with them, and found out that there are far greater concerns than the ones my mind had conjured up.
Why Am I Getting Spam Text Messages? Are Spammers Allowed to Text You By Law?
In March 2005, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules that prohibit sending unwanted commercial email messages to wireless devices without prior permission.
However, this ban is only good for messages sent to cell phones from internet domains. Short Messages (SMS), which are messages sent from one cell phone to another, are not covered by this ban.
You can see where this is going — instead of a company sending you a spam text from @ronniespaintshop.com, they now are sending them to you from 48888. And it's legal to do so.
Do You Get Charged for Receiving Texts that are Spam?
Here is where I was very surprised.
I assumed that if you have an unlimited texting plan that you will not be charged extra for text spam. After all, it shouldn’t matter who is sending you texts with an unlimited plan.
A Verizon Wireless representative confirmed that with unlimited text messaging plans you are, in fact, not charged per text that you receive. She clarified that if you do NOT have an unlimited text messaging plan then the cost for Verizon customers would be $0.20 per text.
However, the representative discussed another way that many people with unlimited text plans are charged anyway:
most of these companies have you opted in to their service without any effort on your part. Simply by receiving their text and with no further action from you, your cell phone bill will reflect this charge (typically $9.99)
The representative I spoke to said that your “permission” was given somewhere along the way, but that many times it is without you knowing.
Specifically, she said that this could be from putting your phone number on Facebook (which I have not done).
The representative also explained that these types of messages where there is an option to purchase or subscribe by a third party vendor are called “Premium Messages”, and are delivered to your phone via a Short Messages (SMS).
You’ll know you have received one because they look like the one sent to my phone above and are sent by Short Codes with four, five or six-digit numbers.
Fortunately for me, the representative checked my bill, and I had not been charged.
Pssst: Beware of the Vehicle Car Wrap scam, which can occur by text as well. Also, be here's how to identify a craigslist scammer.
How Do I Stop Getting Spam Texts? Report Spam Texts
The good news is that you can stop the spam text messages from coming to your phone.
There are several ways to help with stopping text spam:
- Reply these Stop Words: The first and easiest step to take is to reply to the sender with either “stop”, “quit”, “end”, “cancel”, or “unsubscribe”. This may work; however, companies generally have more than one short code and so they may just start texting you again with another short code.
- Call Your Wireless Company: A more effective way to stop these premium messages is by calling your wireless company customer service and asking them to block premium messages with short codes from coming to your phone. If you were charged and did not want to be, take the time during this phone call to have them deduct these charges from your bill (this is at their discretion).
- Report Your Spam Texts to Your Carrier:
- Report text spam — Verizon: First of all, don't respond to any text you think might be spam. Then, forward the suspected spam text message to short code 7726. Here's more information about what comes next in their investigation.
- How to Report text spam — ATT: Report your spam text to AT&T here. Here's what to do after being scammed.
- Report spam text — iPhone: You'll need to find out who your cell phone carrier is (it's the company you send your bill to). Then, either use the info above, or google your cell phone carrier company + report spam text.
- File a Complaint with the FCC: No matter which carrier or type of phone you have, you can report your spam texts by filing a complaint with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission).
Personally I think it is a bit outrageous that companies can opt you in without you doing anything to warrant this. It could be argued that you did, in fact, opt-in to these companies. But if you cannot remember doing so (and the representative said that many consumers cannot remember doing so) then there is something wrong with this system. Fortunately for me I was not charged, even though my cell phone provider was more than willing to check my bill and reverse any charges.
Has this ever happened to you? Were you charged, and was your cell phone company willing to reverse the charges?
Amanda L Grossman
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John @ Married (with Debt)
Friday 6th of January 2012
This is happening every few weeks now. I tracked down a phone number from a site in the msg, called the number, and it was some dude who said that his number was stolen and used on the WHOIS lookup. These people are hard to track down. What an annoyance
Sunday 18th of December 2011
Ahhh - another reason I am glad we rarely turn our cell phones on.
Sunday 18th of December 2011
It's pretty annoying that you have to unsubscribe from these. Is there some sort of do not text list?
Monday 19th of December 2011
Not one that I know of except to call your cell phone provider and have them block premium messages from your phone all together.
JP @ Novel Investor
Friday 16th of December 2011
Usually get 1 or 2 a month and can't stand it. The FCC should start a "Do Not Text List" or just a "Do Not Bother Me List" and cover everything.
Saturday 17th of December 2011
Love the "Do Not Bother Me" List. Can I sign up?
Thursday 15th of December 2011
Hmm... I hardly ever receive text spam, I wonder what factors make you more at risk for text spam? Maybe your phone number is posted somewhere on the web on a site or something and spams just grab it and add it to their list.
I always wondering if responding to spam with "unsubscribe" is worse that not responding at all. It's hard to know the best course of action because sometimes responding will just confirm that your phone number is valid and that you actually read your texts. So you might get even more spam.
Saturday 17th of December 2011
The rep told me that ordering from television commercials/ads, and putting your phone number on Facebook are two culprits. I have not done either...