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Do Not Become a Victim to Text Spamming

Are you one of those people who become extremely irritated when you receive marketing calls for different products?  Well, in our world of smartphones, alongside your home phone, you may have received, or will soon receive, texts soliciting your personal information.

SFGate recently covered a story where people such as Lesley-Ann Thompson received a text from Best Buy, stating that “she had won a $1,000 gift card!”  In reality, Best Buy had nothing to do with this text.  It was simply a part of some major fraud scheme where people would receive such a text, open the attached link and/or call the number included in the message, and hopefully divulge their pertinent financial information.  Scammers would then be able to access these individuals’ bank accounts, and steal their money.  Scammers often use computers to generate cell phone numbers, and then send out these texts by thousands, hoping that at least a few people will respond.  Sadly, many do respond and fall prey to these scammers.

Unfortunately, scamming via texts has become a huge industry.  Ferris Research has reported that in 2011, there were approximately 4.5 billion texts sent out with the intent to scam!  This figure is not only large, but extremely disappointing.  What is not surprising though is the fact that sending texts to scam, or “text spamming,” as it is nicknamed, is illegal.

Although mobile phone companies are trying to prevent these scam texts via internal security measures and asking customers to report scam texts, such preventative measures are not proving to be effective.  What is needed is the cooperation and awareness of consumers.

What may also prove to be effective is to bring these matters to the attention of the law.  Under the 2003 Can Spam Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, mobile spamming is illegal.

The 2003 Can Spam Act (CSA)
The CSA coverall all electronic messages sent for the purpose of commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.  Naturally, texts and e-mails are included.  The CSA establishes requirements for such electronic messages and gives recipients the right to stop the sender from sending them the messages.  Further, harsh penalties for violations are established.  Some of the requirements for electronic messages include not using false or misleading header information, not using deceptive subject lines, identifying a message as an ad if it is so, providing relevant contact information and providing recipients with the option of “opting out” of receiving further electronic messages.  Violators have been penalized up to the amount of $16,000, making non-compliance extremely costly!

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
Congress passed the TCPA in 1991 due to consumers becoming agitated over unsolicited telephone marketing calls.  In June of 2003, the TCPA was amended to include the “National Do-Not-Call List.”  On this list, both an individual’s home and cell phone number can be entered, in order to prohibit solicitors from calling them on their home or cell, ensuring that solicitors will be prohibited from calling.  Violators are to encounter severe monetary penalties.

What Can You Do?
Both the CSA and TCPA allow for mobile phone users to report any spammers, who due to their spam-disseminating actions are violating the law.  Any individual who is frustrated with such spammers can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  The FCC requires a vast array of specific information in order to file a complaint.  Further, the process requires many steps, time, and a lot of patient.  Therefore, individuals are now seeking the aid of attorneys in order to file such complaints with the FCC.  Filing complaints raises awareness, which in turn brings about regulatory action.
Overall, it is best to educate yourself about the law, be astute about the texts you are receiving, and report any improper actions so that text spamming can one day be put to an end.

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