Scamming Goes Mobile
Have you have received a text offering a free gift card or iPhone for your participation in a survey? This new bombardment of mobile phone scams can be as dangerous as any email bank fraud scam as one wrong push of a button could mean endless headaches.
A typical text spam looks like this. You receive a text that states you'll receive a free iPhone 5 as a beta tester, and you get to keep the phone! You have to follow a link to a website for more details, where you confirm your email address, mailing address and date of birth. The only charge for you is a small shipping fee. After you've waited two weeks for delivery and haven't received it, you go back to website to see where your phone is. Oops, the website has disappeared - along with all of your personal data and credit card information.
How often do Americans receive scam texts? Reports show 4.5 billion scam texts were received last year, as compared to 2.2 billion in 2010. However, we're faring much better than China, where unlimited text plans have been available longer, creating a market where 100 billion scam messages were sent to one billion users. (That's roughly one third of all texts sent. Yikes!)
Obviously, text scamming is illegal. The 2003 CAN-SPAM Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, creating the Do Not Call Registry, should protect consumers. However, enforcement is the issue as spammers are almost impossible to track down. Spammers often use blast messages to phone users and move from one phone number to the next once one is reported.
Other than the annoyance of a beeping notice of the new messages, spam texts can be problematic. Without an unlimited texting plan, you could actually be charged just to receive them. Any random data collected in a survey, such as salary or vacation plans, would be sold to digital marketers. Some spam texts sign you up for subscriptions if you press the wrong key, and are virtually impossible to unsubscribe from. Even replying with a "STOP" or "REMOVE" simply verifies that the spammer has reached a working number that they can happily sell to other unsavory characters.
If you receive spam, report it. If carriers are spending more money answering complaints from customers than they are making in revenue from the spamming, action will be taken. Regardless of where you look, the steps to report spam remain the same. They are:
- Report spam to your carrier by forwarding it to 7726 (SPAM on alphanumeric keypads)
- Report spam to the FCC
- Block message from the internet with your carrier
- Block the specific phone numbers sending spam with your carrier
What's an innocent phone user to do to avoid receiving spam in the first place? Protect your phone number with the greatest of care. Here are some tips:
- Make sure your number is registered with the Do Not Call Registry.
- Services such as Google Voice can create an alias number to forward calls to any or all of your phones, protecting your real phone numbers.
- Spam-blocking apps are available for Android devices. (Sorry iPhone users.)
- Invest in message-security software, such as Cloudmark .
As most attorneys use their mobile phone as the lifeline of their practice, any scamming attempts can have major implications. If you feel that you have been scammed, contact Lawyers Mutual Relationship Manager Patrick Brown to discuss the situation.
Samantha Cruff is the Marketing Communications Coordinator at Lawyers Mutual. Contact Samantha for information regarding our available risk management publications at 800.662.8843 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Samantha Cruff is the Marketing Communications Coordinator at Lawyers Mutual. Contact Samantha for information regarding our available risk management publications at 800.662.8843 or email@example.com.Read More by Samantha >