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Author Topic: Block Cell Phone Spam  (Read 603 times)


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Block Cell Phone Spam
« on: June 12, 2008, 03:41:47 pm »

From the NY Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/12/technology/personaltech/12 pogue-email.html?

June 12, 2008
From the Desk of David Pogue
How to Block Cellphone Spam

If I told you that today's e-column would change your life, would you mind that it's sort of short?

The story goes like this. A few weeks ago, in my blog (nytimes.com/pogue), I wrote this:

"OK, now I'm really, REALLY annoyed. Within a week, my wife and I have both started getting spam text messages on our Verizon cellphones. I know that this is nothing new, but it's new for us, and it's apparently getting worse.

"According to Wikipedia, this sleazy practice is described as 'mobile spamming, SMS spam or SpaSMS, but is most frequently referred to as m-spam.'

"It's actually far worse than regular e-mail spam, for three reasons. First, you generally can't delete it without opening it first.

"Second, you have to pay for it. (And, of course, the senders pay nothing, since they can send text messages from a computer's e-mail program for nothing.)

"Third, there's no way to stop it. You can't install an anti-SMS spam program on your cellphone.

"If you're not feeling helpless and livid already, if you're not already storming your carrier and Congress, I can think of only one reason: you haven't been m-spammed yet. But your time will come."

Shortly thereafter, I heard from an AT&T representative who revealed the presence of an astonishing little-known cellular feature: you can block cellular spam.

"Our customers can get onto our Web site," he wrote, "and set their handset so that it receives no messages from the Internet, the origin of the vast majority of wireless spam."

He also said:

"Text messages sent from the Internet are addressed as follows: [Your 10-digit wireless number]@txt.att.net.

"What spammers try to do, of course, is attempt to guess your number, largely by trial and error. This brings me to the second capability we offer our customers. Let's say you want to block spam, but still want to receive messages originating from the Net that you would actually find useful (airline schedules, hotel reservations, etc.). For this purpose, we let you replace your wireless number with an alias. It could be some quirky name, or whatever you like. [You share this address only with people you know.] This could disrupt the guessing game spammers play to try to discern your number and sent you their junk.

"Though not perfect, our efforts have helped keep spam in the category of minor, though annoying, phenomenon. Thanks for listening."

The beauty of this feature, of course, is that it blocks ONLY text messages from the Internet. Your friends, using cellphones, can still text you.

As it turns out, Verizon Wireless offers these features, too. Sprint and T-Mobile don't go quite as far, but they do offer some text-spam filtering options. Here's how you find the controls for each company:

* AT&T: Log in at mymessages.wireless.att.com. Under Preferences, you'll see the text-blocking and alias options. Here's also where you can block messages from specific e-mail addresses or Web sites.

* Verizon Wireless: Log in at vtext.com. Under Text Messaging, click Preferences. Click Text Blocking. You're offered choices to block text messages from e-mail or from the Web. Here again, you can block specific addresses or Web sites. (Here's where you set up your aliases, too.)

* Sprint: No auto-blocking is available at all, but you can block specific phone numbers and addresses. To get started, log in at www.sprint.com. On the top navigation bar, click My Online Tools. Under Communication Tools, click Text Messaging. On the Compose a Text Message page, under Text Messaging Options, click Settings & Preferences. In the text box, you can enter a phone number, email address or domain (such as Comcast.net) that you want to block.

* T-Mobile: T-Mobile doesn't yet offer a "block text messages from the Internet" option. You can block all messages sent by e-mail, though, or permit only messages sent to your phone's e-mail address or alias, or create filters that block text messages containing certain phrases. It's all waiting when you log into www.t-mobile.com and click Communication Tools.

As soon as I heard about all this, I went to the Verizon Wireless page for my own account and turned on the "block" options.

And you know what? We haven't had a single piece of cellphone spam since.

You're welcome.
You Are Number Six

Barry Hufker

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Re: Block Cell Phone Spam
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2008, 03:49:16 pm »

I don't have a cell phone and I still found this interesting and helpful.
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