Spam on hallowed ground

Marc Sanchez Apr 9, 2012

Our phones are becoming more and more integrated into our lives, and it looks like spammers, or “crammers,” have been paying attention. 4.5 billion text messages were attributed to spam in 2011, according to Ferris Research. That’s over 2 billion more texts than 2009. “Cramming” is when unauthorized charges end up on your phone bill, and the practice has recently been banned on Verizon and AT&T landlines. But it’s a tougher fight on cell phones. You’ve probably received a message out of the blue to your mobile phone telling you that you’ve opted into a service, and if you’re lucky, that message might even tell you the subscription costs $9.99 a month. Most likely it won’t, and the charge will just start showing up on your bill.

From the New York Times:

Scrambling to get a better grasp on the problem, the mobile industry last month joined with a maker of antispam software, Cloudmark, on a new reporting service that lets users forward mobile spam to “7726,” a number that spells SPAM on most keypads. Carriers will then use that information to block numbers.

Even though the practice is illegal and there are ways to block numbers, the companies that are sending these messages are often hard to track down and prosecute. Bottom line: be vigilant. Report spammers and check your bill carefully.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.