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FTC Goes After Scammers Who Blasted Millions of Text Messages

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the message-deleted dept.

Government 79

coondoggie writes "The Federal Trade Commission today said it has filed eight court cases to stop companies who have sent over 180 million illegal or deceptive text messages to all manner of mobile users in the past year. The messages — of which the FTC said it had received some 20,000 complaints in 2012 — promised consumers free gifts or prizes, including gift cards worth $1,000 to major retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Target."

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20,000+ people got a free lesson! (3, Funny)

sidevans (66118) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113315)

free things don't require a credit card, unless its *only* to verify that you're over 18, then its totally trustworthy!

Re: 20,000+ people got a free lesson! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43113433)

I totally agree and would like to subscribe to your free newsletter, as long as it only requires my CC to verify my age.

Re:20,000+ people got a free lesson! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43113445)

to be fair, the text is very similar to the message written at the bottom of all walmart reciepts.
the first time i recieved one i suspected it was fakse because no one has the number, i never fill out surveys, and i never shop at walmart. they were targeting people that are the exact opposite of me.

while i didn't know this until i went to walmart recently for the first time in years. the scam is preying on those that are poor enough to apply to the survey in hopes of winning and it is deliberately worded to imply that the reciever has won.

so go ahead and pat yourself on the back for outsmarting scammers, but please reslize that your smugness is completely unnecessary. the people that did get suckered into it had more pressing concerns, namely their life of poverty.

Re:20,000+ people got a free lesson! (2)

MrNJ (955045) | about a year and a half ago | (#43115593)

You have cause and effect confused.

It's possible that "the poor" have no choice but to try desperate means to get out of poverty.
More likely they are in poverty because their pattern of bad decisions such as falling for the get-rich-quick scams.

Re:20,000+ people got a free lesson! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43116395)

Poverty is a product of environment. Those that rise up out of a bad environment are the exception, not the norm. You should replace your smug arrogance with thankfulness that you were born into a better environment.

Re:20,000+ people got a free lesson! (4, Insightful)

MrNJ (955045) | about a year and a half ago | (#43116657)

I was born in a poor country and came to the USA with little more than a bag of clothes.

My thankfulness goes only to my drive to work full time and study full time in a community college at the same time. That's the only reason I am not poor.
But don't let me keep you from fatalistic, lazy belief that poverty or prosperity are results of mere luck.

Re:20,000+ people got a free lesson! (2)

jimbolauski (882977) | about a year and a half ago | (#43120079)

Poverty is a product of environment. Those that rise up out of a bad environment are the exception, not the norm. You should replace your smug arrogance with thankfulness that you were born into a better environment.

So all those professional athletes that are broke after a few years, how do you explain that? same with lottery winners that go broke. In 3rd world countries your cast dictates much of your future but not in modern countries like the US. You get a free High School education and if you have applied yourself in High School you can get a free College education too. I can't think of many people with a College education and an excellent work ethic that are not doing well for them selves, unless they have made other decisions in their life that are preventing them from being successful. The fact is that 95% of people's success depends on them the other 5% is where they came from.

Re:20,000+ people got a free lesson! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43117099)

Possibly, but maybe instead of "getting rich quick" they want to pay off their vehicle, or send their kid to college, or seek medical treatment.

Or, get a boob job and a four wheeler.

Who knows? I'm just saying that both the gp's post and yours are loaded with judgement and smugness that is largely unnecessary.

Re:20,000+ people got a free lesson! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43113601)

The article doesn't actually say 20,000 people were successfully scammed, just that that many complained. I've sent complaints about unsolicited texts (I've gotten dozens that sound exactly like the article described) to the FTC several times.

For the record, I've never fallen for a scam like this (or any other, as far as I'm aware). I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Re:20,000+ people got a free lesson! (1)

xenobyte (446878) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113843)

free things don't require a credit card, unless its *only* to verify that you're over 18, then its totally trustworthy!

Actually a lot of online 'free sampling' do require a credit card. You sign up for something that is initially free (for a limited time) and unless you opt out before this period ends, you are billed for the first period (usually a month) but recurring. So if you want to pay nothing, just opt out in time. If not, it turns into a regular subscription. This is a fair construct that rely on people being too lazy to opt out (in time).

Re:20,000+ people got a free lesson! (1)

crakbone (860662) | about a year and a half ago | (#43115043)

I have found the opt out process is usually pretty vague. on the order of being hidden in the basement of the headquarters office, fallen behind the back of a file cabinet guarded by a Siberian tiger and artfully touched up with bit of chewing gum. Or seven pages into a website at the very bottom of five screens of scrolling under a hyperlink marked "other". or a telephone number that is only answered by one lone guy in India between the hours of 2:015 and 2:17am

Re:20,000+ people got a free lesson! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43125839)

My favorite opt-out is this [fcc.gov] .

What You Can Do to Stop Unwanted Texts to Your Mobile Phone and Spam in General
        Do not respond to unwanted texts or emails from questionable sources. Several mobile service providers
        will allow you to forward unwanted spam texts by simply texting it to 7726 (or “SPAM”) to enable the
        providers to prevent future unwanted texts from the specific sender.

Re:20,000+ people got a free lesson! (1, Troll)

azav (469988) | about a year and a half ago | (#43116129)

it's = it is

Learn this.

All I want is my gift card. (3, Funny)

sylvandb (308927) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113399)

I'm one of the complainers.

I complained about getting the spam, not that I paid and did not receive.

But I'll still settle for just my gift card.

Re:All I want is my gift card. (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113457)

I'm one of the complainers.

I complained about getting the spam, not that I paid and did not receive.

But I'll still settle for just my gift card.

Good for one can of Spam at your local grocery store?

Re:All I want is my gift card. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43113517)

Better than a slap in the face with a wet fish.

Re:All I want is my gift card. (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year and a half ago | (#43122405)

Good for one can of Spam at your local grocery store?

Better than a slap in the face with a wet fish.

Have you eaten Spam lately? Maybe in 1940, it made sense, but now? No. Canned corned beef beats it hands down, ffs. Hell, I'd rather go peanut butter and banana. Sorry Hormel. You're done.

Re:All I want is my gift card. (1)

fifedrum (611338) | about a year and a half ago | (#43115469)

I'll settle for the President using his war powers to drone strike these bastards. And a gift card. (no, not a victim myself, just someone who hates hates hates spammers and scammers)

What about the scammers (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113453)

who blasted millions of political robocalls last fall?

Re:What about the scammers (3, Informative)

Aryeh Goretsky (129230) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113595)

Hello,

Were those the Political Opinions of America [forbes.com] calls? If so, that's apparently a modified "boiler room" type scam where the goal is to get you to purchase a "free cruise" of the Bahamas out of Florida If you take them up on the offer, apparently you get stuck on a ferry and receive a bunch of high-pressure sales tactics to buy into a time share. Here are a couple of blog entries I wrote about them:

If you were the victim of such a scam, you might want to get in touch with this law firm [shulaw.com] who is looking into it.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

The non-scammer version of that "cruise" (1)

billstewart (78916) | about a year and a half ago | (#43118375)

The prices have probably changed a bit since the 80s, but at the time it was about $50 for the cruise, so probably the "$59 port tax" they're charging really pays for the cruise. The Bahamas really aren't that far away - the cruise took about 4 hours each way.

In return for listening to a time-share presentation in Atlantic City, you could get the cruise and a couple of days of hotel in the Bahamas (you had to get yourself to Miami), and my wife and I decided the presentation was a good excuse to drive down the shore for the day and go to a show. The time-share was a financially ridiculous deal, of course (trading for a week of timeshare in somewhere interesting needs 2-3 weeks of New Jersey timeshare, and the prices were way out of line, plus the annual maintenance fee was about what I'd pay for a week of hotels back then anyway.) But the cruise was ok, enough to convince me that cruise vacations aren't for me, and the Bahamas was a relaxing place to hang out on the beach and drink rum.

Re:What about the scammers (1)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year and a half ago | (#43114929)

Or every hotel in Florida calling my cell to offer "Disney Vacations"

What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (4, Interesting)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113489)

I think the FBI should crack down on people scamming in general.

Look at free credit report, they bill your credit card even though they say it is free. They should be fined all their assets, shut down, and people who signed up with them refunded if that last part is possible.

Robo calls make me not want to own a phone at all. I get a couple each week, and they distract me from day. Today one woke me up. Robo calls should be illegal, including political robo calls.

There should be a way to disable text messages on phones. The phone company's dirty secret is that they over charge for text messages so they don't want to provide this service. Every time some spammer sends me scam bait, it costs me .10.

Phishers, and all those email scams should be looked into by the FBI too.

Look at the people who mail everyone who signs up for a webpage with a bill for their webpage making them think it comes from their webhost, but it is actually a scammer wanting money.

I'm pretty sure it always wasn't this way, but today, it seems like a large portion of incoming communication is from someone who wants to scam you. I can understand not being able to shut down some threats out of the country, but a lot of these things come from inside the country.

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (2)

Widowwolf (779548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113545)

"Look at free credit report, they bill your credit card even though they say it is free."


It is completely free, as long as you cancel within 7 days of getting your report..It says you get it free with the signup of their service, and you wouldn't be charged unless you forget to call and cancel..Right at top of the page


IMPORTANT INFORMATION When you order your $1 Credit Report and Score here, you will begin your 7-day trial membership in freecreditreport.com. If you don't cancel your membership within the 7-day trial period*, you will be billed $19.99 for each month that you continue your membership. You may cancel your trial membership anytime within the trial period without charge.

Re:cancel your membership within the 7-day trial (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | about a year and a half ago | (#43115875)

What you don't mention is how difficult it is to cancel said trial period.

Re:cancel your membership within the 7-day trial (1)

Widowwolf (779548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43116081)

So..Life is difficult.Jobs are hard...should the FCC investigate them? All I did was call the #, tell them to cancel.Said no 4 times, Reiterated to cancel it, received confirmation #..not that bad.

Re:cancel your membership within the 7-day trial (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43116287)

So..Life is difficult.Jobs are hard...should the FCC investigate them?

All I did was call the #, tell them to cancel.Said no 4 times, Reiterated to cancel it, received confirmation #..not that bad.

Life is too short to waste going round and round with "Retention Services".

These days, I'd rather not opt in to begin with.

Re:cancel your membership within the 7-day trial (1)

Widowwolf (779548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43116561)

So go pay full price and dont sign up for this site specifically..Its not that hard..That's what happened to America..Instead of working for shit, people think everything should be free

Re:cancel your membership within the 7-day trial (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43119505)

So go pay full price and dont sign up for this site specifically..Its not that hard..That's what happened to America..Instead of working for shit, people think everything should be free

Who said I was thinking specifically about freebies? I've avoided a lot of services after the 6-month fight it took to get out of IBM's ISP service. It was good while it lasted, but the time came when something better came along and it was sheer murder switching off. They kept switching it back on, trying to push me into special trial periods, etc., etc., etc. ENOUGH already!

Re:cancel your membership within the 7-day trial (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43121635)

So go pay full price and dont sign up for this site specifically..Its not that hard..That's what happened to America..Instead of working for shit, people think everything should be free

WTF? Full price is free. This scam started when the government required credit companies to give you one free credit report per year. The scam tries to confuse people into using their site instead of the government site. Your anti-entitlement bullshit is misdirected. This was a scam. Fraud, plain and simple. Every free market conservative should want fraud stopped.

Re:cancel your membership within the 7-day trial (1)

Applekid (993327) | about a year and a half ago | (#43116693)

So..Life is difficult.Jobs are hard...should the FCC investigate them?

All I did was call the #, tell them to cancel.Said no 4 times, Reiterated to cancel it, received confirmation #..not that bad.

Is there any legal standards for cancelling a subscription? If I opened up a service that offered a free trial and my cancellations department was one guy who only answered one call between 3:03:00 am and 3:03:15 am, Monday through Wednesday excluding holidays, would that still be acceptable?

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119499)

I think what you meant to say is that it is completely free if you do it yourself (limit 2 per year).

Just because some hipster got together with some marketing guys and made a jingle that gets stuck in your head, that doesn't mean it is your only method.

There really aren't any credit score gatekeepers. It's like taxes! it can be done without any business being a middleman, if you choose.

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43113553)

Free credit report is free if you sign up for their subscription service. Subsequently cancel the service later and you'll never be charged.

Sounds reasonable. (2)

mosb1000 (710161) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113611)

What could possibly go wrong?

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43113557)

May depend on the phone carrier but I did tell my carrier that I did not want to receive or send any text messages at one point so they turned that part of the service off for me.

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (1)

Widowwolf (779548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113561)

"Robo calls make me not want to own a phone at all. I get a couple each week, and they distract me from day. Today one woke me up. Robo calls should be illegal, including political robo calls."

Because every lawmaker will vote for that..


"There should be a way to disable text messages on phones. The phone company's dirty secret is that they over charge for text messages so they don't want to provide this service. Every time some spammer sends me scam bait, it costs me .10."

You do realize there is a way to do it..Talk to your porvider and tell them to disable it...They have to do it by most countries laws.


"Phishers, and all those email scams should be looked into by the FBI too."

They are looked into by the government..It's called the FCC..People complain, they look into it http://www.us-cert.gov/report-phishing [us-cert.gov]


"Look at the people who mail everyone who signs up for a webpage with a bill for their webpage making them think it comes from their webhost, but it is actually a scammer wanting money."

Why you always pay directly to the hoster..not a random letter


"I'm pretty sure it always wasn't this way, but today, it seems like a large portion of incoming communication is from someone who wants to scam you. I can understand not being able to shut down some threats out of the country, but a lot of these things come from inside the country."

No they do not..They usually come from Russia and China and Africa

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43113621)

I think the FBI should crack down on people scamming in general.

Your suggesting they arrest all the politicians etc too?

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (-1, Offtopic)

viet4g (2860247) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113733)

http://truyensex321.com/ [truyensex321.com]

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (4, Interesting)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113769)

The one that I find weird is the "Windows Technical Support" scam. 3 times now I've had this kind of phone call in which a live person assures me that they've detected that my computer is infected. The 1st time, I strung him along a bit to see where it was leading. They want you to download and run some software from a particular website, which of course really will infect your computer.

The parts that amazed me were the sheer brazenness of the whole thing, and that evidently there's enough money to be made from infecting computers that it's worth paying call centers to have live people make thousands of attempts at this social engineering. They are so clearly, obviously criminal, yet they weren't shut down immediately. What of the much vaunted ability to track down copyright infringement, in order to empower 3 strikes laws? Are these operations really so hard to find and shut down? Must be, or Rachel from Cardholder Services would have been silenced years ago, though the criminality of that one wasn't as immediately obvious. I suppose it's to be expected that those who run call center operations have no scruples.

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (3, Informative)

richy freeway (623503) | about a year and a half ago | (#43114487)

That's not the scam at all. The software they get you to download is some remote control software, usually legitimate. Something like Teamviewer or Logmein. They then proceed to show you all the "problems" in the event viewer and offer to sell you software and remote support (which you don't need).

I've had quite a few computers come through my workshop where a customer has fallen for this scam. Never found any viruses. The scam is them taking money off you for absolutely nothing. Whether or not they then resell the credit card details, I don't know. But I know that they take payments of anything upwards of £90.

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43114717)

If you refuse to pay for their software, they proceed to disable services, set security policies etc. to make the system unusable. They then shutdown or reboot, so that you can actually see that your system is unusable.

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (1)

richy freeway (623503) | about a year and a half ago | (#43114731)

I've yet to see any evidence of this. Most of our customers have been savvy enough to just terminate the call and end the remote desktop session when they start asking for money. Not saying it doesn't happen, but I've never seen it.

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43115799)

I've yet to see any evidence of this. Most of our customers have been savvy enough to just terminate the call and end the remote desktop session when they start asking for money. Not saying it doesn't happen, but I've never seen it.

Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7zuQ8mYpog [youtube.com] where it shows they start deleting files as soon the guy question their purpose of the service they offer.

They look ALL over the system and (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43114939)

grab banking and other financial information.

This one old lady I helped said they called, she let them into her system, they then proceded to look into various directories, she saw files being opened, and when she realized what they were doing, she hit the power button. She called her bank and the bank closed all her accounts and reopened new ones for her.

Those people who trick people into remote access are dirtbags, scammers, and crooks and should be shot.

Your clients were just lucky.

Re:They look ALL over the system and (1)

richy freeway (623503) | about a year and a half ago | (#43115283)

Oh I've had my fair share of stupid customers who have actually handed over anything from about £90 to £200 for a years worth of "protection" and "support". They just don't get anything for their money at all.

I've even known people who don't own a computer get calls from the scammers.

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | about a year and a half ago | (#43115881)

What of the much vaunted ability to track down copyright infringement, in order to empower 3 strikes laws? Are these operations really so hard to find and shut down?

No and no. The problem is that if your FCC is anything like Canada's CRTC, they just simply don't give a fuck. (Or in their words, they're powerless and can't even find who is making the calls)

Marketplace (CBC investigation/consumer rights TV program) had absolutely no problem tracking down and embedding a journalist [www.cbc.ca] in an offshore telemarketing scam company. They even took their findings to the head of the CRTC and asked "If we can find these people, why can't the police, or the CRTC?"

The response was basically stunned silence, followed by "We can only action on information we receive." [www.cbc.ca] . Even in the face of so many complaints and information given directly to them (including the name and address of the violating company, the CRTC just says "Oh, that's nice. We're pleased with the job the CRTC is doing. This should be a police matter." (16:50)

Or more accurately, when faced with the statement "Nobody has a solution", the CRTC's response is "That's right".

So I agree with you. It's sad that the full force of God can be brought down upon a teenager sharing some MP3, but when there is real, actual international fraud being committed on a grand and organized scale-- openly and brazenly-- the authorities who can stop it are nowhere to be seen. Actually worse-- they're right there, refusing to do anything while patting themselves on the back for a job well done.

CBC Marketplace episode, To Catch a Telemarketer: http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/episodes/2013/01/to-catch-a-telemarketer.html [www.cbc.ca]

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (1)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113893)

You might want to change numbers and use a free online service like Google Voice when registering for something. Since taking that approach upon getting my current number 2.5 years ago, I've only gotten 1-2 spam texts/year and the rare unwanted calls are from locals trying to reach somebody else.

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about a year and a half ago | (#43114257)

Well you know Verizon and Comcast put you on their own personal phone book, and then sell that information to mass marketers? You can ask to be hidden, but that costs 5$/month to recoup the lost revenue they get from selling off your name/number.

These people don't actually know who their calling when they call this number, so they frequently ask,"Hello, is this ?"

So I've gotten to the point where I need to ninja answer my phone,"Hello, who may I ask is speaking?". This puts them on the defense, and they might tell me what company is calling, or they might still go ahead with the,"Hello, is this " At which point, I just hang up on them to keep them in the dark.

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43114013)

Wait, you _pay_ to receive SMS?
What the hell primitive country do you live in?
In Australia, sender pays. End of story.

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (1)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year and a half ago | (#43114981)

Here in the advanced US, they can charge sender AND receiver.

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43114165)

Paying to *receive* calls/texts ???

How unenlightened. In all civilised countires the sender pays.

Maybe you should fix your phone services ?

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (1)

dissy (172727) | about a year and a half ago | (#43114535)

I pretty much agree with most of your post.
I'm going to skip the parts I disagree with, and instead offer some advice I've gained in my own experience.

BTW I can't help but laugh at the idiot anon replies attempting their lame insults of not living in a civilized country. But that's par for the course on slashdot! Nothing useful to offer, so offer the most useless of replies to waste our bandwidth.
So on to stopping people from wasting your bandwidth ;}

Personally, I've gone through some pretty extreme measures to stop unwanted phone calls and communications.
I've always had fairly bad anxiety problems, which have been peeking pretty bad lately. I can't explain rationally the dread I felt when ever my cell phone made noise, as typically less than a tenth of the calls/texts I got were from people I wanted to actually hear from or deal with.

Right now I have a "firewall" program installed on my phone operating in whitelist mode. I also am paying $2.50/mo extra for unlimited text messages, which I had to argue for about two hours with my wireless carrier to get (It's usually $5), but they kept arguing it wasn't possible to disable text message service completely, and I wasn't willing to accept that answer when my printed contract stated otherwise. The contract may have changed since then, but clearly my request is not impossible.

One way of looking at it is that I now don't pay anything additional when incoming text messages go over my previous limit of 100/mo.
Another way of looking at it is I'm being forced to pay an extortion fee for that privilege.
In the end, $2.50/mo is acceptable to me personally to end the annoying over charges and not have to deal with it anymore.
While I am against it on principle, my condition lately has caused even more problems, so it was an easy choice to make.
You'll have to decide that one on your own of course, and unfortunately I have no sound advice if you (totally justifiably) choose to stick to the same principles.

As I mentioned, I now use a whitelist for incoming calls and texts. If your number is not in my phones address book, or I don't add an exception rule, I don't even see the call/msg and it does not show up in my call history.

Blocked or private numbers do not even hear the ringing signal, and are disconnected immediately. The same with numbers under 7 digits long, and any toll number prefix.
If I especially do not want to hear from someone, I have a special blacklist that any number within simply gets a busy signal when they call.
All others I allow to go straight to voicemail.

This way I can at least tell people I am speaking with to first leave me a message, as it's the only way I'll know they called and from where.
I can then make a contact entry for them and future calls come through as normal.

With this setup, I perhaps get 1-2 voicemails in a year that are telemarketers. Most that can don't bother to leave messages.

I can also setup lists that only apply at specific times.
But so far all I've used that for is one single person, an old friend who isn't as much of a friend these days but I still don't want to lose touch.
I've told him no less than 20 times to stop calling me at work multiple times in a row without leaving a message, I am busy and have things to do. A message I can get to when I have a moment. 20 missed calls and no idea why just pisses me off and makes me Not want to spend a second of a break dealing with that. His number specifically is sent to voicemail between 8-5 mon-fri :P

The main reason I choose a firewall package instead of a service such as Google Voice was not wanting to change my phone number.
I hear they allow phone number porting now, so that isn't an issue anymore (if true) but it might be an option worth looking into.

Once the allow/block list is in your own hands, you have a lot more power to prevent such annoyances, of course at the expense of some of your time.
My logic is, those calls took up my time anyway! This just shifts on what and how much of it I spend. For me it is much much less, and I would much prefer spending my time in better control of my life than dealing with or even trying to ignore such calls.

Any smartphone platform should have such software available to you.
For all others, there are services such as and similar to Google Voice that offer varying levels of control. It's at least another additional option available.

The only other advice I can offer is, no matter how much they argue it or claim they are helpless, your provider DOES have the ability to block text messages.
Technically speaking, this is actually extra work on their part, not less as it may at first seem. Text messages are sent through the cellular control protocol, and these messages are passed back and forth between the phone and tower every couple of seconds no matter what. It's where the "you have a call, ring now" commands go, as well as "phone is making a call, allocate a channel" is. Normally the 140 bytes for an SMS are just nulls most all of these times. They really do need to do extra work to filter out the SMS parts while allowing the rest so your service works at all.
But make no mistake, unless you are with a brand new startup using their own towers and only having coverage in a small bubble around your <1000 pop. town, your carrier is large enough to already have the equipment in place to do this.

Just try to push through, and don't let them bully you around.
Eventually they should give in and comply with your request, if for nothing else than to stop you wasting their support centers time ;}

Good luck!

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (2)

Threni (635302) | about a year and a half ago | (#43115905)

> Every time some spammer sends me scam bait, it costs me .10.

I still don't understand why people use phone companies who charge you to receive spam. It just doesn't happen in the UK at all.

Surely the simplest way to prevent most of the stuff you mentioned is to defer payment for 3 months (from the phone companies to the spammers) so you have ample time to check and dispute items on your bill. Word would go out for other customers to check their bills, and if a company is found to be doing this wrongfully they'd simply not get paid by the phone company; the customer wouldn't have to do anything. Genuine companies can either wait the 3 months for their money, or find a different business model.

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (2)

jittles (1613415) | about a year and a half ago | (#43115967)

Uhh most companies will let you disable incoming and outgoing text messages right on your account management page of their website. And all of the US ones let you call and disable text messages at any time. So I'm not sure where you are pulling the SMS thing from, but its not true. You can definitely have it disabled.

Re:What I don't get is why scammers are tolerated. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43120213)

Funny, I think the FBI's time would be much better spent investigating people who use off-shore tax havens to avoid U.S. federal taxation.

Of course this is based on my supposition that people would be prosecuted and not offered amnesty for coughing up the money they should have paid in the first place. Wouldn't it be nice if the wealthy tax dodgers were charged for the cost any such (as yet imaginary) investigation that led to their identification?

reply with your own gift (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43113529)

When I get one of those, I reply with a text : " I have a gift for you.". Then I attach a picture of something fresh my dog laid in the yard.

Re:reply with your own gift (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43113543)

write a script to fill out their webforms with random garbage.

Re:reply with your own gift (2)

jamesh (87723) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113837)

When I get one of those, I reply with a text : " I have a gift for you.". Then I attach a picture of something fresh my dog laid in the yard.

Just a picture?

Re:reply with your own gift (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year and a half ago | (#43124029)

" I have a gift for you." Then I attach a picture of something fresh my dog laid in the yard.

A pic of a female dog? What's that supposed to mean?

Why couldn't Verizon and ATT just stop them? (2)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113535)

The messages I got were transparently bogus. Why couldn't Verizon and ATT just block the messages? Or perhaps the question is why wouldn't they stop them? Is it because they collected 20 cents from every message, times maybe many millions of messages? Well, they do collect from anyone without a text plan at least.

Re:Why couldn't Verizon and ATT just stop them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43115675)

Because even if you threaten the call center agent in India that you'll cancel with them, they could care less.

So the FTC's threshold is 180 million? (3, Funny)

Zadaz (950521) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113547)

So that repeat robocall to my cell phone only needs to call 179 million more times before they'll take action.

Re:So the FTC's threshold is 180 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43118719)

So that repeat robocall to my cell phone only needs to call 179 million more times before they'll take action.

179,999,999 more times...just sayin

The law we need (2)

Skapare (16644) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113643)

The law we need is one that provides a clear and accurate source of the message or phone call. It must identify the phone company that took the message or call from a customer, and also identify the customer, except in the few special cases the government allows blocking ID (never for commercial businesses). Any phone company failing to provide this identity accurately assumes all responsibility for every message or call made as if they made it themselves.

Re:The law we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43114343)

So basically get rid of privacy, except in those few cases where the state graciously "allows" us to get a few breadcrumbs of it back. Got it.

Re:The law we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43120421)

Privacy isn't something you can legally hide behind when your actions are blatantly illegal. Evidence of illegal behavior IS the basis for 'reasonable' search and seizure. It's the reason that warrants are issued.

I'm sick of phone companies' indifference to the behavior of their customers. They make money on both sides of any illegal text or call which IMHO makes them complicit in the crimes and therefore responsible at some level. It shouldn't 'cost' them a cent, since they are receiving revenue directly from law breakers that could be used to offset any minimal expense policing their systems. How do I know it would be a minimal expense? We all know how 'productive' their employees are. The biggest telecoms have all laid off 10's of thousands of employees during the 'downturn', improving their productivity and increasing their profits.

Re:The law we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43119613)

You talk like a congressman. You actually have any idea how phone systems work, do you?

In a vast network of interconnected systems you can easily hide where the system thinks you are calling from.

Why don't you make a law about proxies/tor/remailers/VPNs? Because phone identification is kind of like that but with a huge array of "ISPs" (or starting points) to choose from.

What are you saying? (1)

niftydude (1745144) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113713)

You mean I didn't just win £750,000 in a lottery I never heard of and never entered????

That's a good start. (2)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113719)

... now if they can only go after the people who seem to always spam me with text-message ads for "hookup" websites, which I am presuming are catering to people wanting to get lucky with somebody else local for them.

My wife has received 2 of these, and I've received 5 since the beginning of this year, each time from a different phone number, but always for the same website (each individual message claiming to be from a different person, however.)

Damn annoying, because we can't seem to do anything about it. At least we both have an unlimited text plan though, so it's not costing us any money. Still frustrating when you get a message and you think it's important and it turns out to be just spam, though.

Sunday morning texts (2)

Kasar (838340) | about a year and a half ago | (#43113721)

Filling out all those federal complaint forms actually accomplished something? I just did it out of frustration and because I knew spam texts hadn't been legalized yet.
Marketers have to buy their legislation like everyone else.

Whoop De Fucking Do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43113945)

So, are any of these assholes going to jail? No? So there's no reason for the next asshole not to try the same scam, right?

SMS Spam at 01:00 am (1)

rapidmax (707233) | about a year and a half ago | (#43114177)

I've received this kind of SPAM already twice just after I fell into sleep. That's quite annoying. Beside the fact it woke me up, it usually drives me into rage that I couldn't sleep again afterwards for half an hour.

For example the last text I got was this:

Congrat! Your mobile number has WON £4,000,000 from the United Nation Grant. Email your name and cell number to ***@******.COM for claim "Keep Confidential*

In both cases the number was a random one from a foreign country. I'm now searching an app to stop the alarm if the number was a foreign one. Then the spammers find a way to send from local numbers... :-/

About fucking time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43114321)

I used to get these all the time... PrizeForm, Win-A-TXT, PrizeWinToday, etc.

About time someone does something about these fuckers. DNC didn't help. CellCo's didn't help. These assholes deserve to have their heads mounted on pikes.

Funny, I stopped getting those when I stopped... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43114573)

Paying for texts! I recently upgraded at a plan with texts included, and I stopped getting those. I had been getting one or two a week at 20 or 25 cents a pop.

They'll get the job done... (4, Interesting)

Rhys (96510) | about a year and a half ago | (#43114683)

Just like the did for lowering my credit card rates with Rachiel. Or the asshat foghorn cruise captain. Or how my vehicle warranty is expiring.

This isn't a hard problem to solve. Mandate the phone companies build in a star-spam sequence you can fire during (or right after) a call to have that caller marked as spamming, just like gmail. Get so many complaints, phone company hands you over to FTC for investigation. Phone company doesn't hand them over and then when the FTC does get them, the fine is double (triple? 10x? Whatever factor needed to make it hurt) whatever the revenue from the scam was.

Not rocket science. But as long as the phone companies profit from the scammers, you better believe this will continue to be a problem.

Just say no. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43114749)

I once won $200 off the purchase of a $400 set of luggage!

Why do we have to pay for incoming txt's? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#43116075)

Why do we have to pay for incoming txt's?

I have to block TXTing so I don't get billed for them.

Re:Why do we have to pay for incoming txt's? (1)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | about a year and a half ago | (#43116851)

Uhm, because you signed a contract that said you would?
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