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Stopping Spam Text Messages

In the United States alone, over one billion text messages are sent every day. The majority of texts these are spam, made even more annoying than email inbox spam because in many cases, consumers are forced to pay for them. Also, receiving lots of spam can slow down your phone’s processing speed, particularly if you have an older cell phone.

The Attorney General, Bill Schuette, recently issued a Consumer Alert regarding spam text messages. There’s one caveat with the Attorney General Office’s Consumer Alerts; they are not legal advice, legal authority, or a binding legal opinion from the Department of Attorney General more like important information and warnings about questionable and deceptive business practices. The Attorney General’s Office warned that in addition to the unwanted charges on your wireless phone bill, smart phone users and personal digital assistant (PDA) users run the risk of picking up viruses and “smishing” scams. Smishing is a scam that points consumers through text messages to pirate websites who skim the consumers’ personal information and/or downloads software which lets hackers control the cell phone.

Before smishing was even a recognized issue, Congress passed the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act, in 2003. The CAN-SPAM Act made it illegal to send unsolicited commercial e-mail messages to wireless devices—including cell phones and pagers—without first getting the consumer’s permission. Working with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (which created the National Do Not Call Registry) CAN-SPAM Act keeps a database of phone numbers that telemarketers are forbidden from calling unless they have an established relationship with the organization; tax-exempt non-profit organizations are a good example. To learn more about CAN-SPAM Act and Telephone Consumer Protection Act, read the Federal Communications Commission’s consumer alert here: http://transition.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/canspam.pdf. More information about the National Do Not Call List is here: www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/tcpa.html.

If you’d prefer to skip the heavy reading, there are a few easy ways to keep spam from taking over your cell phone. If you do get an unwanted spam text, quickly contact your wireless service provider; sometimes this will get rid of the charge from your bill. You can also set up active spam filters, by talking to a customer service rep from your wireless provider; then you’ll be able to block messages sent from personal computers (where most spam comes from) while receiving messages from cell phones. Also, register your cell phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry, at www.donotcall.gov or 1-888-382-1222 (call from the number you want to registered). Be vigilant about who can access your cell phone and e-mail address, and change the default e-mail address that comes with your phone, to something less commonplace and easy for spammers to guess. Lastly, be aware of what you’re putting on your smart phone: free downloadable apps and ring tones, which make you agree to lots of information “sharing” fall outside of the CAN-SPAM Act.

And, if you want to take action about spam you have received, file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission online at http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm, or call them at 1-888-CALL FCC (1-888-225-5322).

But what should you do when you get a robocall or an unsolicited text message? Hang up the phone. Do not press 1 or any other numbers to get off the list. Then, contact a Chicago Consumer lawyer for a free consultation. The Federal Trade Commission has stopped billions, yes billions, of robocalls in the last two years. An attorney will aggressively enforce the law to stop robocalls and unsolicited text message. Not only will they stop the calls and text messages, but you may be entitled to money damages, too. Damages in TCPA cases range from $500.00 – $1,500.00 per call or text.

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