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Spam Wireless Networking Hardware

Spammers Start Abusing Cell Phones 266

slimyrubber writes "Just when you thought that spam couldnt get any worst, Cell phones are becoming the latest target of electronic junk mail, with a growing number of marketers using text messages to target subscribers. Is cell-phone spam likely to evolve into something that big, something approaching the scale of e-mail spam? Not if you help to kill SMS spam where it starts. Hopefully."
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Spammers Start Abusing Cell Phones

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  • Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:36AM (#9666521)
    I seem to recall that in the US, telemarketing to cellular phones was illegal, as the receiver often pays for it directly.

    Wouldn't sms spam fall into the same category?
    • Re:Hmm. (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I seem to recall that in the US, telemarketing to cellular phones was illegal, as the receiver often pays for it directly.

      I seem to recall that spammers don't exactly care about what's legal or not... or at the very least the ones that chose to page me and wake me up at 2AM with their important messages of where I can get a good mortgage and how to enlarge my penis.

    • Re:Hmm. (Score:5, Informative)

      by sheetsda ( 230887 ) <(doug.sheets) (at) (> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:14PM (#9666820)
      Source [] - Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991

      From Subpart L - Restrictions on Telephone Solicitation

      L. No person may

      a. Initiate any telephone call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice,

      i. To any emergency telephone line, including any 911 line and any emergency line of a hospital, medical physician or service office, health care facility, poison control center, or fire protection or law enforcement agency;
      ii. To the telephone line of any guest room or patient room of a hospital, health care facility, elderly home, or similar establishment; or
      iii. To any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call;

      (Emphasis mine) This appears to be the law that made calling cell phones illegal, but it seems it is specific to "telephone calls". I would think a good lawyer could argue that they're essentially the same thing though.
      • Re:Hmm. (Score:2, Funny)

        by Mudcathi ( 584851 )
        No person may... Initiate any telephone call using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice...

        Obviously, this is not one of our more effective laws, eh? My cell phone company has Mr. Robot call me every month when my bill becomes past due.

    • My cellphone provider told me the first 1000 text messages are free, then I have to pay per message afterwards.

      I told them about my concerns for SMS spam, and they told me I could have this specific function disabled if I wanted.

      I'm glad I don't use it...
    • I seem to recall that in the US, telemarketing to cellular phones was illegal, as the receiver often pays for it directly.

      And *how* does this differ from e-mail SPAM? Who is paying for that? The recipient!!!

      • And *how* does this differ from e-mail SPAM? Who is paying for that? The recipient!!!
        I never got charged $0.40 per e-mail, but if I don't have unlimited text messaging on my cel phone and spam pushes me over my limit, each message costs one minute of full price airtime. I've gotten cel spam before, but only 3 times. Each time it was from a Yahoo! address and it's only happened once per account.
  • This isn't new (Score:2, Informative)

    by Doomrat ( 615771 )
    This isn't new at all. I remember clearly getting phone spam back in 2001, and it wasn't for things I'd subscribed to via text messaging (I rarely used the phone, and certainly not for any of these fucking "TXT 4 KEWL LOGOS" services).
  • the worst (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:37AM (#9666537)
    And just when you thought butchering the English language couldn't get any worst...
    • by Epistax ( 544591 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .xatsipe.> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:59AM (#9666712) Journal
      Starting a sentence with and, then not finish the sentence (fragment) and using "worst" instead of worse.. Yes, you are right. I didn't think it could get any worse than that.
      • Re:the worst (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kevcol ( 3467 )
        You'd better look this up: Irony [], and then re-read the original /. story content at the top.
  • FCC regulations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pvt_medic ( 715692 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:38AM (#9666542)
    I think that we will quickly see law suits being filed over this, similar to the one we saw to Many cellular companies charge for receiving text messages, and it would be a violation of FCC regulations to initiate such ads when the recipiant is being charged for them. (Also it is illegal for a telemarketer to call a cell phone, because of the charge ensued from having to use minutes).
    • Re:FCC regulations (Score:5, Interesting)

      by justforaday ( 560408 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:52PM (#9667059)
      (Also it is illegal for a telemarketer to call a cell phone, because of the charge ensued from having to use minutes).

      Not entirely true. It is illegal for a telemarketer to use an autodialer to initiate the phone call, but it is not illegal for a telemarketer to call your cell phone if they hand dialed the number. See this post [] earlier in the thread for the section of the TCPA that states this. I only know this because I was debating taking the Washington Times to small claims court for calling my cell phone to get me to subscribe (the person on the other end didn't know what my number was to remove it from their list because "the machine dials the numbers for us").
    • What makes you think FCC regulations will stop spammers now? There are so many things peddled by spammers that are illegal in MOST COUNTRIES, but being illegal never stopped them before.
  • What Next? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    First Email, Then Phones.. Will next be my fridge?
  • by ketamine-bp ( 586203 ) <> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:39AM (#9666545)
    Is that
    (1) It is not easy to filter out, given the majority of people here now only uses phone that cannot be programmed easily (at least, not as easy as using the OE plugins or the MacosX
    (2) Usually they are more intrusive - nowadays people carry cell phones around and when you are bugged by SMS spam TOGETHER with important SMS.. it's friggin' bad...
    (3) They know where you read it... the positioning system of the GPS/w-cdma networks allow them to track your place...

    now what? right - do it with legislation.
    • by foidulus ( 743482 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:53AM (#9666659)
      (1) It is not easy to filter out, given the majority of people here now only uses phone that cannot be programmed easily (at least, not as easy as using the OE plugins or the MacosX
      Filters are NOT the answer to this problem. Spam is already taxing a lot of networks who have tons of bandwidth, imagine what a spam epedemic could do the cell phone networks...
      Although this accompanied with cell phone virii could be great news for the Russian mafia, imagine threatening Verizon or Sprint with a DDOS attack.....
      • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:02PM (#9666739)
        T-Mobile has a rather simple web-based application via which a customer can establish rule-based settings for which SMS messages they would like to get or world like trapped out. Therefore, the configuration doesn't have to be done at the phone itself, it's done via a web browser at a full-featured PC.
    • by KC7GR ( 473279 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:11PM (#9666801) Homepage Journal
      Ketamine-bp wrote...

      "(3) They know where you read it... the positioning system of the GPS/w-cdma networks allow them to track your place..."

      Not true in all cases, nor at all times. All the GPS-enabled phones I've seen to date do not automatically broadcast one's position. They do so only when you're making or receiving an actual call. Also, the network itself has to be able to interpret and pass on the GPS data received. If you're hitched into a 'legacy' analog network, or a digital one that has not been updated to handle the e-911 feature set, your phone can spew its position data all it wants to no avail.

      I'm not sure how it is for phones other than Motorola and Nokia, but the ones I've seen let you configure the GPS function to transmit position only for 911 calls or for all calls.

      Here's the problem: The phones I've played with all come with the locator feature set to "Transmit on all calls" by default, and it takes some digging in the menu tree [] to find the feature and change it. Hardly anyone actually reads the manual for electronic equipment, let alone digs into the deep menus to play with low-level functions.

      Even worse, you can't turn the GPS functionality off altogether because the FCC made its presence mandatory for the new E-911 systems. []

    • I sure as heck cell phone makers release phone firmware allows blocking SMS completely, or if enabled, have a competely open "whitelist" of pre-approved senders.

      I haven't recieved any spam email or SMS on my Sprint phone, but I've heard there's no way to turn off SMS on some phones. Not sure how to verify that.
  • by foidulus ( 743482 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:40AM (#9666557)
    I was there last year, and the day after I got my cell phone, before I had even given the number out to anyone, I managed to get SMS spam. Porn spam to boot. Needless to say I was both impressed and annoyed.
    The cell phone structure in Japan though makes it a bit easier to spam(the carrier I had, KDDI uses your cell # to do SMS). Unlike the US where your cell # area code is based on location, in Japan all cell phones have either 090, 080(and 081 I think) so the spammers just used an SMS equivalent of an autodialer I do believe. Though I never got any SMTP spam while I had the phone...
  • by beh ( 4759 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:40AM (#9666558)

    For one thing - SMS are limited to 160 characters, and secondly - SMS cost money to send. Granted - even email costs money, but you could send probably several thousand emails of a few kb each for less than US$1. With SMS you're paying a few cents for each individual SMS of max 160chars. Therefore for SMS spam to become a real phenomenon, you would need way higher returns for the messages you send.
    • In China, Hong Kong and many places, SMS advertising is available at a flat rate...

      We at hong Kong often receive messages from the cellphone providers and are very pissed off by them.. but then for some reasons they disappeared in these few months.
    • There are online services that allow you to send sms messages for free.
    • by anakin357 ( 69114 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:48AM (#9666611) Homepage
      The problem is this, that most cell phone providers have an email gateway into their network, as a courtesy and convenience.

      For example:

      So what happens is the spammers use the same techniques of spamming regular email addresses but it's too easy to guess an email address with a number that is in a fixed format, a number that doesn't bounce usually incremented by 1 is a good place to goto next.
    • YOu can send text messages to a cell phone from an e-mail. Usually you have (Verizon) or soemthign like that. So it is really cheap to send them out, just another e-amil address for the spammers to add to their list.
    • SMS is frequently free to send. All the SMS services I've seen have a web interface at the carrier's web site. Anyone cans send a message through these web interfaces for free.
      It's a LOT easier for a spammer to figure out SMS addresses (almost always the phone number) than email addresses. A simple random number generator and a a script can send potentially thousands of messages a minute
      • Not so fast. Those web forms usually limit you to 1 or 2 SMS per day. I guess that you could also automate the creation of a new account, but the company offering the web interface pays for each 'free' SMS, so I bet that the form is heavily secured.

        Spammers sending SMSs usually buy them in bulk from operators, directly or through a third party. The second option is simply to use stacks of GSM modems, but it is costly.

    • All the phones I've had since '99 or something have been able to combine up to six messages into one. They do this by setting some header in the message. So it's 6*160=960 characters. All new phones here do this (euro, everywhere else too, probably). Also, on the cost issue: If you have some cash you can buy, say 300000 messages is some eastern european country for cheap (bulk from some provider), typically at 1% of the consumer price. Then you just send from that country into some other country. The reciev
    • In Holland there are cases of people digging ground cables and hiding autodialers.
      This was normal POTS and many years ago, I am afraid this trick is also being used.

      Add up modern day WiFi and you have autodialers picking up instructions through WiFi channels.
      BTW same can be said for RFID, we will have some very disruptive times with "WiFi~Other tech" connections coming years...

      The means to interconnect everything will also bring that some people are able to make dozens if not hundreds of connections throu
      • I forgot to mention one thing...


        DRM will kill the various networks very soon.
        I predicted in my journal of last februari already that soon we will see DRM enabled virusses that cannot be removed again from a DRM'ed system untill the whole DRM is taken out.

        Now imagine a DRM'ed G3 platform with several DRM'ed virusses on it?
        How much do you think a network like that is worth?
        Indeed, nothing, only fools will get 1 time a subscription and after the experience
  • 110 characters (Score:2, Informative)

    by viggen9 ( 192812 )
    At least the messages are limited to 110 characters on my old Nokia / attwireless setup.
    • You were unlucky --- perhaps you weren't using a standard network? The GSM Standard [] specifies 160 characters if using a Latin alphabet, or 70 if you use non-Latin alphabets like Arabic or Chinese.

      Furthermore, many places and phones (e.g. pretty much everyone in the UK) now support multipart SMS, where the sender splits up a long message (320 chars or more) into multiple parts, and the receiver puts it back together at the receiving end.


  • by loony ( 37622 )
    We already went though fax spam, email spam, telemarketers and of course everyone's favorite - junk in your snail mail box.
    I think its time that we come up with a more global view of things. A single list similar to the do-not-call list but that will allow you to get blacklisted for every kind of communications. I know many people have reservations like that spammers will use these lists as a source of valid email addresses, but you can get around that by allowing the user to select which one of their cont
    • Better: a single list that you have to sign up to if you want to receive ads. The default should be "leave me alone".

      What's that, Mr Marketer? Nobody will sign up and you won't have an audience? I believe the phrase is "my heart pumps piss"...

  • Companies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:41AM (#9666566) Homepage Journal
    Companies won't stop cell phone abuse because it means higher dollars for them. Plus it means they can sell services to block the abuse, which is generally a pattern from regular phone companies selling caller-id, call blocking... etc.

    Wherever there's money, there's abuse of power.
  • In the UK... (Score:5, Informative)

    by electrichamster ( 703053 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:42AM (#9666573) Homepage
    In the UK I've been recieving text message spam for a while, and recently there has been a massive surge in the number of text message "Scams" being sent out.
    Generally of the type "You have a new voicemail, call XXX to listen to it", where XXX is a premium rate number.

    Highly, highly irritating - now all we need is a baysian text message filter ;)
    • Re:In the UK... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Easy to block it

      ICSTIS []

      Preference service []

      Stop yer whinging and sign up if you are so worried.
    • Re:In the UK... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:08PM (#9666782) Homepage
      So have I, so I forwarded a couple of the messages to ICSTIS and they stopped practically overnight. Best of all, as this article [] shows, ICSTIS has teeth and isn't afraid to bite and name names afterward. Note that in additional to the UKP 75,000 fines, all six companies were banned from operating in the UK. Combine that with this [] upcoming operating guideline and hopefully SMS spam in the UK might not even get off the ground.
    • I get those.

      I also get ones from "Lust" saying that someone has a secret crush on me and to call a premium rate number to find out who...hmm, not bloody likely :)
  • hopfully this will help outrage the average joe finally. Phone spam annoyed people but usually didn't cost them anything and it provoked some good 'ol fasioned outrage and finally got legal attention. Email spam is pretty much the same thing. But this WILL cost the average joe so hopfully we'll see some immedate action rather than the slow "lets live with it..oh wait its annoying..oh shit fuck this" mentality. I really cannot understand why unsolicited advertising isn't illegal already.
  • UK sms spam (Score:3, Interesting)

    by solidox ( 650158 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:43AM (#9666581) Homepage
    here in the uk we've been getting spam through our mobiles for a long time now, many years.
    there has also been chainmail too.
  • I had this problem for about 2-3 years. I finally got them to turn the stupid message thing off on my phone after arguing over the bill every month. Is it getting worse or did someone just now notice? Wondering why this is news.
  • by SushiFugu ( 593444 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:44AM (#9666584)
    Fast forward a year or so from now: "Ask Slashdot: Where Do Dummy Cell Phone Numbers Go?"
  • Sausages! (Score:4, Funny)

    by ksp ( 203038 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:49AM (#9666624) Homepage
    Just when you thought that spam couldn't get any worst...

    And this happended just when I thought my wursts couldn't get any more spam...

  • I'd love to know why phones don't have any filtering options. My Nokia lets me assign different ring tones to different caller groups, and to disable ringing for selected groups - most of the time, my phone won't even ring if the caller's not in my phone book.

    So why can't they implement a similar function for SMS? If the number's not in my phone book, I don't want to hear a tone, and I don't want the message sitting on my phone - just flush it straight away.

    • most of the time, my phone won't even ring if the caller's not in my phone book.

      This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I have a cell phone for emergencies (and general communication). If my Son gets run over and his Mom is calling me from a hospital, your idea means I'd never know about when she tried calling. There's no way to type in all the possible numbers of someone / ANYone that *could* possibly call - and have them be VERY important calls at that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:52AM (#9666656)
    The only way you'll see cell companies scrambling to prevent SMS spam is if their revenues would be adversely affected by not doing so. If cell companies learn that their subscribers are turning their cellphones off when not in use or are cancelling their SMS service altogether, then they they sit up and take notice. Otherwise SMS spam delivery actually helps their bottom line and they won't be inclined to prevent it.

  • Damn info harvesters (Score:4, Informative)

    by obli ( 650741 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:55AM (#9666680)
    I've been pestered ocassionally with SMS spam, but I had no idea how and where those foghats got my number from. Then recently, maybe two days ago, I discovered a site that could do reverse lookup on numbers in my country, It found me from my number, in a goddamn public list, I checked a few more similiar sites and about half of them knew about me. It appears that my WSP sold the numbers of anyone they had connected with a name, out there on the internet they're defenseless against them evil info harvesters. Sellouts... Death to Vodafone!
    • The only SMS spam I've received on my phone ever is from my GODDAMN CELL PHONE PROVIDER. They keep telling me that I can upgrade my service to get free SMS messaging, when I ALREADY HAVE FREE SMS on my account. In fact, I'm just about to switch providers because of this: every month I get a couple bucks on my bill ($.10 per message) for the spam they send me and I have to keep calling to try and get it removed. ARE YOU LISTENING AT&T? Or whoever you are nowadays. I would have switched a while ago b
  • I predict this will never catch on. At least not in Europe. Here the sender pays for sent text-messages, which makes the spammer pay big money if he is to spread the word. In adidtion, it is very easy to trace messages wntering the phone-network, and thus it is very easy to catch the offenders.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:59AM (#9666707)
    Each of the major cell phone providers have an e-mail to SMS gateway relaying all messages to [10-digit-number]@[provider's domain] to the appropriate cell phone of it exists on their network.

    Not only does that mean that there's only 10 billion possible combinations that can go in that 10-digit-number slot, since all those numbers come in the form [area code]-[exchange]-[4 digits] they can start focusing on the exchanges that have been allocated to wireless providers to get a very high success rate. If you know that 508-335-xxxx belongs to Cingular, you can take a pretty good shot at aiming 10,000 messages at all the combinations of that number on Cingular's SMS domain, and a majority of them will most likely hit devices.

    Of course, number portablity now introduces the possiblity that a number is now no longer with the original provider who owned the exchange allocation, but that'd be only a dent in a pretty high success rate to begin with. Remember that spammers need only a .001ish% response rate to justify their operations... so any tool this strong is dangerous in the hands of "guess and check" operations.

    I remember the old Prodigy service had the limited domain of addresses in the form of [four letters][two digits][letter from a-f] and spammers had a field day of being able to discover such addresses from them being posted on the service and just deducing others.
  • Forget about laws requiring companies to have your consent before that contact you. In the USA, corporations on the national level insert loopholes. For example, if you buy something from a company, or simply ask it a question, suddenly they have your consent to contact you in the future. The govertnment's approach to privacy is opt-out.

    Anyone who has bought anything from a web site (or God forbid, simply asked a question by e-mail) knows what I'm talking about. Why would SMS legislation in the USA be an

    • Spam is in the eye of the beholder. Some people welcome discount offers from in their e-mail, others consider that to be Spam. Your right to have the messages you don't want blocked ends where it starts to interfere with somebody getting messages that they actually want.

      Opt-in consent is the best system we have... if you really want to opt-out you should have the blocks set up on the systems you control because clearly an opt-out-by-law system is never going to function.
  • by Vlad_the_Inhaler ( 32958 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:02PM (#9666737) Homepage
    Virtually all of the spam SMS-messages I get are from phone companies themselves.

    My own 'provider' (Vodaphone) broadcasts the occasional multimedia message so I can see how unspeakably wonderful they are, but that is a relatively minor irritant.

    Whenever I leave the country - Germany - the local providers all send me messages in German welcoming me to their networks and suggesting ways I can enhance my experience there by dialing certain numbers. You get one of these messages each week (Sunday to Saturday) so a weekend somewhere will generate one message when I get there and another one on Sunday for each network my phone happens to roam into. This is annoying enough when I am not at the wheel, but goes way beyond that when I am driving and expecting a serious message. No, I do not want to pull over and check my mobile every time some cretinous phone company wants me to check out their 'recipe of the week'.

    Anything that allows me to whack them with a big stick is welcome by me.
  • shocked and confused (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gerardrj ( 207690 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:03PM (#9666745) Journal
    First the confusion: The article was written in November of 2003, 9 months ago. SMS has been available for at least 8 years (perhaps not under that name) so why does the article talk about "early adopters"?

    Second, the shocked part:

    I recently started receiving SMS spam on my Nextel phone. I've has SMS and standard email on the phone for at least 5 years and just recently started receiving junk messages on it. At least once a day I'd get some garbled text telling me to call some number in Seattle, WA to purchase a college degree.
    The thing that shocked me was that Nextel does not indicate the source of the message on the phone that received it, You just get the text and the date/time stamp it was received.
    I called customer service and technical support, both informed me that Nextel there is no way to track the source of such a message (this is blatantly false, they just don't bother to track it), and that there was no way to block such messages by sender. If I didn't want the messages I'd just have to turn off the service all together.
    That simply isn't an option as SMS is one of the ways I monitor my systems; ie: all root logins from anyplace other than approved machines get sent to my phone; important client messages get through on SMS when I have my ringer off at night, etc.
    In the end all they did was refund my monthly messaging fee.

    I finally gave up, called the number that was listed in the messages and threatened criminal and/or civil action if I received any more messages on my cell phone from them.

    I haven't received any more junk in the week since that call. In the end I guess I'm out the nickel it cost to call long distance for a minute.

    I just can't understand how a company can charge you for incoming messages when they have no way for you to filter them or even know the source of the message. How could they not see anonymous on-way communication as a potential (likely) source of abuse?
    • Here's another thing non-nextel users don't realize about nextel phones. They are built to be ANNOYING. By that I mean, they are given typically by companies to their employees as ways to get in touch with them. A result of this is that the default settings for many things on nextel phones never give up on alerting you until you acknowledge them. An example would be when you receive voicemail, it will ring every 30 seconds or so non-stop until you acknowledge it. If you receive a 2 way message, it will
  • Whitelist (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Aliencow ( 653119 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:03PM (#9666746) Homepage Journal
    I'd like a phone that allows SMS only from people in my contacts...
  • by EnglishTim ( 9662 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:05PM (#9666754)
    I have received SMS spam, but unlike email, it costs the sender money, thereby limiting the scale of the abuse.

    The scam that has been turned up recently over here in the UK has been targetting schoolchildren. You get an SMS saying that someone fancies you, or something like that. You reply, and get hit for a 1.50 ($3) charge. However, the regulations were recently changed to prevent this kind of thing - IIRC, you're not allowed to send an SMS that doesn't explicitly state if the reply is going to cost more than normal.
    • That works a bit differently here in Germany.

      Your phone rings. Once. No way can you be fast enough to pick it up on time. No problem, you have the caller's number and can ring back.

      Now, most people in Germany know that a number which starts with 019 is the equivalent of an 900 number in the US - it can cost serious money. Not many adults fall for that one and ring back.

      That is why people pulling this scam started faking (?) 013 numbers. 013 numbers can also cost you far more than the price of a cal
  • by ( 643709 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:07PM (#9666771) Homepage
    I am getting spam to my mobile phone for, say 3 years. Now it is ok because my phone was stolen, so I have new a fresh number. I live in EU, Czechia. Enjoy, whoever is using that spammy number now!
  • A lot of people are paying for SMS service. Paying. Some people pay for email as well, but not by the message, and the postal mail is in our taxes... but again we don't pay for each delivered message.

    But with many SMS providers do they not have a certain fee for a certain number of messages? In effect these spam messages would then be eating in to the allotted # of SMS use you paid for. I don't like that.

    I don't know the laws, and I don't care to really because if they don't protect you from this (jus
  • I've had 2 spam text messages this year. One from Orange (bastards). I got 3 last year, so not a massive problem.

    • yes, the model of receiver pays has got to be the most retarded thing ever.

      it makes so little sense its invention must have been motivated purely by desire for profit, bypassing all consideration of anything else.
      • Receiver pays does make sense. The wireless subscriber is being charged for the use of the wireless network, which is expensive to maintain and operate.

        Back before the invention of cellular networks, it was standard practice for the user of a mobile telephone to pay airtime charges for all calls that originated or terminated on the user's mobile telephone. A person who called a mobile telephone only paid the standard rates for a wireline telephone call to the mobile operator.

  • What I do (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AnimeFreak ( 223792 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:21PM (#9666877) Homepage
    In order to text message me on my cell phone, you must include my nickname enclosed in brackets -- ie: (AnimeFreak). That way spammers have a harder time spamming me.

    My GSM/GPRS provider included it in their service, so I made use of it.
  • by ChilyWily ( 162187 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @12:26PM (#9666918) Homepage
    Yup, after about 1.5 years of no spam, suddenly, I started to receive SMS messages in spanish! I called Verizon and told them that since they were just a dozen or so junk messages, I was igonring them, but that they should remove the 10cent per message charge from my bill.

    The Verizon droid told me that she would 'enhance' my service to a $2.99 per month charge where I would be able to receive 'unlimited' SMS messages!

    To make a long story short, I got those charges removed but decided to remove the SMS option from the cellphone because there is no winning when the cellphone company colludes with the spammers.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I doubt spamming on cell phones is every gonna become a big problam like regular spam. For the simple reason that with most cell phone providers, it costs money to receive an SMS or MMS message. SPAM is still around cause in the end, the only cost to the receiver is time and just a painful experience. Paying to receive spam is so outrageous that carriers will take the necessary steps to put an end to it, at the risk of loosing their customers.
  • glad (Score:2, Informative)

    im glad that at&t wireless dosent charge for incoming just outgoing
    • Re:glad (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Todd Knarr ( 15451 )

      Actually I'm glad my cel-phone company does charge for receiving. That means I've got a line on my bill documenting financial damage from the unsolicited message. That's very helpful when filing a small-claims action against the originating company when they won't knock it off. It's also helpful when dealing with the FCC since the cel-phone company and the commissioners can't fob it off as "Oh, but you're not paying for that message." and if they suggest buying an unlimited plan I can respond "Oh, so I shou

  • This problem has a trivial solution, based on the fact that users generally don't want to receive text messages from unknown strangers. Providers can just allow users to choose a password, and then drop all messages that don't include the password somewhere in the text. This stops the problem in its tracks. (Some kind of whitelisting could be added to allow traffic from services, or alternatively, the services could also arrange to send a password.)


    • ...first of all, it adds an extra word that has to be put in the already limited SMS message (160 chars).

      Secondly, does the average teen using SMS want to remember a password for every single person they send SMS messages to?

      Thirdly unless you made it a "proper" "secure" password (which would be a bitch to enter with predictive text) it is vulnerable to a simple dictionary based attack.

      Now all we need is a huge list for "why your SMS spam prevention technique will not work" (a la smtp one that's alway
  • Anonymous e-mail to SMS gateways are just inviting abuse. Make people register for an account to use such things. The account can be free, but with verified contact info. And let SMS recepient charger sender $1 if he/she doesn't like the message.
  • My provider is the guilty party here. I have AT&T Wireless as my mobile provider, and they are constantly spamming my phone with ads for the mMode service. For a while, I was receiving an ad every day at noon, urging me to subscribe to a monthly mMode plan. They backed off a little bit, but I can count on at least one SMS each month for a contest, promotion, or some other advertisement. I don't get charged for incoming text messages, but it is still an annoyance.

    Just last week I received an automat
    • That's AT&T spam, not third party spam. You can easily end the text messages (they're actually WAP push's if you use a compatible phone) if you either tell customer service or opt out with a certain type of reply. While still spam, it is easy to end it (and when you sign your contract at the beginning, you can opt out right there). Most people are concerned with the OTHER spam, which your wireless provider has less control over.
  • by AssFace ( 118098 ) <stenz77@gmai l . com> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @01:46PM (#9667416) Homepage Journal
    I don't live in the States anymore, so it is hard for me to speak from first hand experience as to what its current SMS state is - but in 1999 and 2000 I could send an e-mail to "" and it would see if that user had SMS capabilities on their service and if so would send it out to them.

    I used it to send myself automated reminders and data via my computer - I also used it to harass my friends via e-mail.

    Do these things still exist? - I forget the servers that were used, but it was something along the lines of "" or something, and then the phone number before the @.

    If they do still exist, then it is just a matter of sending out your spam to every number in that range. Since you know fixed area codes of sorts (not entirely valid on cell phones, but there is still the concept that not every number is used), it limits the number space that you would have to move through.

    For instance you know that "0000000000@whatever) is not valid, but "617###0045@whatever" is much more likely to be valid, assuming "###" is a proper series used by the provider in question.
    (I can't used fixed examples since I am not as familiar with them now as I once was)

    Even if they turned off the open side of it (meaning any e-mail sent to that), there is still the web access side - there was a web interface that would let subscribers send data via a web page to any enabled phone number - even on other platforms.

    If you do a search, there are Perl modules and such out there to automate this as well.

    You can even do it via AIM/iChat.

    I have talked about it to some extent on my spam blog [] in the past - but I don't want to talk too in depth about it and then make it that much easier for someone that may have not had that idea before.
  • by yoshi_mon ( 172895 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @01:48PM (#9667426)
    After reading this thread I see a lot of people saying how annoying SMS spam is beacuse you get charged for them even if you don't want them. To everyone that has such a service I have to say are you out of your mind?

    A service, setup such that as long as your cell phone is on and has service, that can bill you at will seems like the biggest wet dream a phone company could have since they forced leased phones! What incentive at all would they have not to sell the lists of their subscribers to anyone and everyone who wanted them?

    I'm sorry, SMS may be neat but when I first got the sales pitch about including it in my service I laughed right in that poor salespersons face. I said if they ever come up with a way that I can deny any SMS message based on who the sender is then I might consider it but until then thanks but no thanks. (She then made a valent pitch about the unlimited service but I think she even knew that it was allready a lost cause.)

    Vote with your dollars people. Don't use SMS at all until they make it more intelligent. If I can see who is messaging me I can choose to be charged or not. And if someone fools me and I accept one that I really didn't want, well thems the breaks but it was still my option.
    • I don't get this.. Nothing in your post make any sense.

      "If I can see who is messaging me I can choose to be charged or not." -uh? It's the sender who pays.

      "I'm sorry, SMS may be neat but when I first got the sales pitch about including it in my service I laughed right in that poor salespersons face." -Why wouldn't you want SMS? It's really great. I use it for everything. One of my servers go down. *bip* I get an SMS telling me which server has problems. My GF needs to tell me something but I can't get to
  • by Jamie Zawinski ( 775 ) <> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:00PM (#9668405) Homepage
    I got this extremely head-explodey spam the other day. Though, I guess it's nice to see spammers engaging in predation on other spammers for once...

    Subject: Become an CELLPHONE SPAMMER
    From: "Rickey Brock" <>

    Everyone knows response rates for email spam have gone downhill tremendously over the past two years. It's no surprise ... after all, we've been bombarding people with ads for everything from penile enlargement pills to mortgages almost since the day the Web was invented.

    But cellphones are a different story. Very few people know how to mass broadcast text messages.

    But I do. I've been doing it for six months now, and the response rate is HUGE. If I send a hundred thousand messages, I'll pull 20 good mortgage leads easily. And it's not hard to send a few million text messages a day. Remember, cellphone carriers ARE NOT ISPS. They don't know anything about filters! They have a few filters, sure, but they are weak and ineffective.

    Bottom line ... I am getting sued by two major carriers and must get out of the business. I am willing to pass on the torch to 3 people only. I will give you everything you need to start mass mailing text messages instantly. Here is what I will provide you:

    [...blah blah blah ... ]

    I am not a ripoff. Upon request, I can fax you a copy of the 74 page lawsuit against me by Verizon. I have been a bulker since 1996 and focused entirely on text messaging for the past six months.

    Once again, contact me at [different email address] for more info.


    Eddy M.

  • Simple solution.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @06:38PM (#9669679) Homepage Journal
    ... copy off of ICQ. My cell phone has a phone book in it. It's easy to add/remove people from it. Give me the ability to say "only accept messages from people in my phone book" and the cell phone SPAM issue is solved. WTF email doesn't work this way, I'll never know.

When you are working hard, get up and retch every so often.