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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mobile spam'n'scam - fight back!

Couple of things have annoyed me recently about unsolicited calls & SMS to my mobile. But there are ways to get your own back....

The first was more serious. Two of my numbers have had examples of the "missed call" scam - someone rings you, but hangs up before you can answer. The caller-ID shows something like 0709xxxxxx. The 07 prefix tries to con you into believing it's a normal mobile number. But it's actually some other premium-rate thing & you get to pay some anonymous scammer a shedload of cash for the privilege. Luckily I smelled a rat before I returned the call, and Googled the number to discover (a) various people had had the same problem, (b) Ofcom had launched an investigation in to the company owning the number, and (c) the number was registered to company at the same address as its parent firm (with full contact details on the web). So I forwarded an additional complaint to the investigator at Ofcom, and also tried to contact the marketing director at the company concerned. Haven't heard back, but neither have a had any more such missed calls.

The second one concerns SMS spam. I hate it with a vengeance, and make 100% sure I never give my mobile number out to anyone I think might be disreputable. (One of the benefits of having a landline is the ability to enter it into any web forms you suspect may be harvested by SMS-happy marketing droids). I got two SMSs yesterday evening from some fly-by-night mobile content firm (nameless for now, I don't want to give it publicity) inviting me to download some dodgy Java app & pay £3 a week for some stupid "content", via an SMS shortcode. Oh, and it also graciously gave me the chance to "Opt out" by texting "OUT" to the same shortcode. What was ambiguous was whether this was opting out of the service itself, or just opting out of their spam database. It also didn't tell me if that itself would cost me money, or whether (like email spam) my confirming my existence would just perpetuate yet more spam as they sold on my number as "live".

Luckily, in this case, the no-hoper firm, when Googled, yielded a contact name at their London PR agency - whose other clients I speak to fairly regularly. A terse phone call & email has sent the PR guy (who I'm probably putting in a tricky position - sorry mate) trying to get an explanation from the marketing genius who thought that SMS spam was a great method to promote his service. Given he's obviously a budget holder (ie he must have employed & paid the PR agency), I've also informed him of the substantial fee I'll levy for deleting any more of his messages, and that sending any more to me automatically confirms acceptance of my terms. Dunno if that holds any legal water, but it should at least prove the point that unsolicited SMS spam is simply unacceptable. And it feels really good to give a spammer a proper two-fingered salute.

Thanks, Google, for helping me unveil & respond to the spam/scam lowlife.

Edit: Here's a thought - are there any SMS spam-filter software clients for smartphones?


Anonymous said...

Dear Dean,
There is a blogger under voipniche.com that copies other peoples blogs. Yours as well, and he times them before yours, making it appear that you are the one who copied the post.
Only way to sto him is to report to google adsense.

Adsense report is at
* The URL of the violating website

* A description of the violation

* The specific location of the violation, if applicable

Thanks and sorry if I bothered you and hope you understand why I am anon.

Anonymous said...

So, I'm sure that you know this... but on the off-chance that you don't. Never click unsubscribe, or send an unsubscribe text or email unless you know the company as a reputable one (like if you are on AT&T's press release list and want off). Otherwise you are just confirming to a spammer that they have a live number, email address, whatever - and you will end up getting a lot more spam.

As for a mobile SMS filter.. I'll hunt around a bit

--random security guy--

Anonymous said...


There's an app I used to use for Palm OS Treo's called Callfilter. What's nice is that it uses the categories in the Treo's addressbook. There are other apps for Palm OS, but they rely on manual config and black lists so aren't really worth the effort.

I'm still hunting for something for Windows Mobile and Symbian though...

Ian Fogg

Jay Edelson said...

I wanted to let you know of a recent development that might be of interest to your readers.

My law firm just settled a class action, resolving a case involving allegations of unsolicited text message transmissions. Under the settlement, each class member will receive up to $150. This is the first settlement of its kind.

We are trying to get the word out on this settlement, so that the members of the class will learn about it and claim their benefits.

The following people are eligable to receive funds from the settlement: ALL PERSONS WHO RECEIVED A TEXT MESSAGE between the dates of July 17, 2002 and July 17, 2006, FROM DISTRIBUTIVE NETWORKS, LLC or Astromobo.com or dailypopgossip.com or Madlovetips.com or dailydoseofblue.com or ringstarmobile.com without your prior express consent

We have set up a website at www.distnetsettlement.com where class members can learn about the settlement and obtain claim forms. Our law firm's website, should people want to contact us directly, is at www.blimlaw.com.