Cell Phone Spam

7/1/2008 Cell phone spam destroyed Virginia Doetsch's fun of texting her kids. "The spam text messaging became so invasive. I really can't repeat the words, just things that were inappropriate for me to see, for my children to see, for anybody to see really."

This year, Americans will receive an estimated one-and-a-half billion unwanted cell phone spam messages, twice as much as in 2006.

Mike Gikas, Consumer Reports, says "People don't realize they could unknowingly be inviting spam when they download ringtones, games, and other stuff from vendors they don't know or trust."

Cell phone users are protected from spam by the can-spam act, which prohibits sending commercial messages to cell phones without "express prior authorization." Unfortunately says Gikas, "The law has a lot of loopholes. For example when you sign up for service, even from your own vendor, you're also giving them permission to send you messages as well as their partners."

Without better protection, what can you do to minimize cell phone spam and the potential cost?

Consumer Reports says call your carrier right away. You're more likely to have charges for messages waived before they pile up. And you can block spam at the source.

You can go to your cell account online, access preferences for text messaging and e-mail, and block text messages from internet based accounts. Of course, you can still get the text messages you want from family and friends when they use their cell phones."

As for Virginia Doestch, she got so frustrated she cut off her text messaging service. "I'm hoping that by turning it off, once I turn it back on, hopefully those people who are text messaging me will forget my number and move on to somebody else."

But you don't have to be that somebody else.

To block cell phone spam, you can also register your cell phone number with the national do not call registry. And you can file a complaint about cell phone spam with the FCC by going to www.fcc.gov.

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