March 25, 2011

Text Message Scams on Mobile Phones

From the earlier 68851 text messages, to the newer ones, text message scams on mobile phones seem to be a thriving business.

If you are getting unsolicited text messages from a 5-digit number asking you to reply YES or STOP to their offer, beware. Most likely it is a text message scam. If you act (or do not act, see below), their offer may enroll you and you will start getting charged $9.99 per month (or another amount) on your phone bill. See below on how to spot a text message scam and what to do about it
Who is sending you SMS spam
The 5-digit numbers that you are getting messages from are known as shortcodes. Enter that 5-digit number in this shortcode directory from US Cellular to find out who is sending you text messages and check the offers website to see if they are a scam. For each shortcode, a link to the offers website is given.

How to recognize a text message scam  
  1. You get an unsolicited text message
  2. The offer sells a useless product or service
  3. The offer is an opt-out (rather than an opt-in). You have to opt-out of the offer else you are enrolled by default and will start getting billed monthly on your phone bill
  4. The offer is an opt-in. If you reply to the offer, you are enrolled and will start getting billed monthly on your phone bill
  5. The offer enrolls you in a monthly rebill with an amount small enough that you may miss on your phone bill 
See how 3 and 4 contradict each other. With some scam offers you are enrolled if you don’t act and with others you are enrolled if you do act. AT&T, Verizon should be banning such misleading offers from their networks.

How to stop SMS spam and scam
Azdisruptors is dealing with the problem by exposing the scam and following up with the mobile carriers. You can also check 68851 for more information and see how to block mobile phone scam for carrier specific instructions.