Stopping Phone Spam on Your Cell Phone

4 tips for stopping cell phone spam, lotteries and working at home: Internet ScamBusters #316

Wow, it’s hard to believe that today is the last day of 2008. And it’s almost as hard for us to believe how long it’s been since we did a subscriber Q&A issue. So, that’s how we’ll end 2008.

Today we’ll answer these three subscriber questions:

– How do I stop getting all this phone spam on my cell phone?

– Did I win any of this money?

– Can I earn extra income working in my home?

And now for the main feature…

How do I stop getting all this phone spam?

Question: I keep getting phone spam — text messages on my cell phone. I haven’t subscribed for a texting plan with my provider and I keep getting charged for these spam messages. What’s going on? Is there anything I can do?

Answer: Yes, fortunately, there are some things you can do. Phone spam is easier to deal with than email spam.

Now, although it’s illegal to send solicitations to cell phones, with an estimated 200 million cell phones in the United States alone, that’s a victim pool too rich for scammers to avoid. So, you do need to protect yourself.

First, don’t respond to texts you receive on your cell phone based on the belief that they’re coming from someone you know. They often do come from scammers. So, simply don’t reply.

In fact, sometimes by responding, you’re agreeing for a product or service that you don’t want — and you may be inadvertently agreeing to a relationship with the spammer, which means they can then continue to spam you.

That’s because the CAN-SPAM act does not cover “transactional or relationship” messages — basically notices that you’ve already agreed to receive. And if you’ve previously responded to a text message, sometimes you’ve created this relationship so that CAN-SPAM no longer applies.

Second, guard your cell phone number. Never give it out, especially on websites offering freebies, like supposedly “free” ringtone downloads. These sites often harvest cell phone numbers for spamming.

Third, if you get what you believe is a spam text message, save it and notify your service provider. Most providers are aware this is a problem and will work with you to remove the charge.

Finally, you can ask your provider to completely disable ALL text messaging services on your cell phone so you don’t get any text messages. This won’t work for everyone, but if you don’t use text messaging, it may be a good option for you.

Did I win any of this money?

Question: I am getting a series of emails talking about money I have won. I would like to know if this is for real.

Answer: We have to admit that we are surprised every time we get an email from a visitor to the Scambusters site asking us this question. And we get dozens of people asking this every week!

No. You did not win the Swiss, French, British or any other lottery. It’s a scam.

Two things to note:

(1) If you didn’t buy a ticket, you can’t win. This is a general rule to remember.

(2) It’s illegal for a US citizen to participate in a foreign lottery. Although details may differ slightly from email to email, the basic scam remains the same.

You can read more about this and other lottery scams in Foreign Lottery Scams.

During tough economic times, people are more susceptible to these type of scams. Don’t fall for them.

Can I earn extra income working in my home?

Question: I’m a stay at home mom and I’d like to start earning a little extra money by working at home. I’m interested in [company name omitted] but I wanted to check with you first. It only costs $49 but they say that you can earn up to $2,000 in the first week. What do you think?

Answer: Sadly, the Internet is full of these work from home and make a gazillion dollars schemes. They all pretty much fall into the same category — TGTBT (Too Good To Be True).

You have to use your own good judgment here and know that if they are making claims that you will make ridiculous amounts of money per week (for doing next to no work) it’s almost certainly a scam.

And always remember the #1 Scambuster Rule for work at home jobs: NEVER pay for the chance to get a job.

There are thousands (perhaps even tens of thousands) of work at home scams out there. Check out this article on 10 Tips on Avoiding Work At Home and Home Based Business Scams before you proceed with any work at home offer.

That’s it for today, but we’ll be back next week — in 2009 — with another issue. Wishing you a very Happy New Year. See you then!