Thursday, May 27, 2004

Cell Spam, Celluar Spam, Text Message Spam: Keep Away From My Phone

I have a lot of animosity towards spam. It’s a basic nuisance that we all deal with, and wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t take up a large part of your email box most of the time. The horrible part is that spam continues to evolve. There are spammers who offer free access to porn sites, and use the images that hotmail has for security as the signup key. They then get the image code, enter it into the hotmail confirmation signup (automatically) and tada, another spam account is born, beating the new MSN security practice.

But a new annoyance has begun. I’m now getting spam as text messages on my cell phone. I’m not talking like I get one a month; I’ve gotten 5 in the last two days. Previously, I always got excited by text messages, because they were usually from some of the really cool people that I know, sending me a little tidbit about their day, or just saying hello. Now, I’m getting messages like: “learn the juicy details on anyone GO TO: www.theymonitoryou.com” or ”get all skeletons on your wife!” or ”check out the juicy details on inlaws” or get all the hot facts on your lover” or ”read all the hidden secrets on friends! GO TO: www.weapprove.net”. It’s like they really know me! Wait, I’m not married, nor do I care about all the rest. Coincidentally, all of these text messages come from… you got it, MSN accounts.

Granted, this is all very aggravating, so I decided to call my carrier, ATT Wireless (a.k.a. ATTWS. I was expecting some resistance and difficulty and a long time on the phone. Miraculously, after dialing in all the info required, I got an operator in one ring. This is unheard of in the cell phone circle. I was almost totally unprepared. Usually, I have time to formulate what I’m going to say, how I’ll say it, wonder what tune is playing on the hold playlist, get mad that I’m waiting so long, wonder what I forgot to do today, and finally get a non-English speaking operator who tells me they have to transfer me to the correct department, and then the process repeats.

But surprisingly, my operator was prompt, offered me upfront a new package deal promotion (I declined), and asked me how he could help. I told him I was getting spam and all the details, including the websites promoted and that all of the spam came from MSN accounts. I asked if I was paying for these, and he told me that everything was ok, I’m only charged for text messages I send, not receive. He then took my account (there are two numbers on it) and told me it may take up to twenty days, but that he sent it in for processing. And that was it. I was done. Incredible.

Luckily, I’m not getting porn spam yet, but at this rate, I assume it’s not far away. This website suggests adding your cell number to the do not call list, but I would advise against that. I’ve heard rumors that illegal spam promoters actually peruse that info for prospective calls.

I have to give my thanks to ATTWS for being so pleasant. Although I’ve heard otherwise, I’ve never really had any large complaints about them, and I get better service than most. Thanks again, ATTWS, for being a provider I choose to stick with, although you’re probably going to be Cingular soon anyway.

And to the spammers: leave us alone on our phones. Stick to your regular means of advertising. I will further let it be known that I choose to boycott any text message websites that I receive as spam. Although it doesn’t mean much, it’s my little fight against the shadows, and I’m still naïve enough to think it means something.

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