TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Cellular Phone Spam

Cellular Phone Spam

Lisa Minter (
Mon, 13 Jun 2005 13:26:53 -0500
The personal ramblings of Wes Salmon

What is the Internet coming to?

What is the Internet coming to when I have to be more concerned with
spam in my inbox than "l33t h4x0rs" or viruses bringing my system
down? Case in point, last night before bed my phone beeps, I have an
SMS waiting. This is odd in itself since I rarely get an SMS unless
I'm at a trade show or other event where people are trying to catch up
with me. I check the message, and low and behold ... it's spam, and
not even well targeted spam since it's a message offering me a
back-to-school loan. What made this one especially annoying is that
SMS messages aren't free for the most part, I buy 'em in blocks and
this SMS spam just directly cost me up to a dime! Sure a dime is chump
change, but I'm a chump who doesn't like being advertised to at my own

To compound my frustration, this morning before venturing out into the
unbelievably crazy morning rush hour here in Seattle, (5 miles in 30
minutes, but that's another story entirely) I check my newly created
Hotmail account that I plan to use for IM'ing at my new job. Guess
what, more spam. Already I'm a marketing target and the email address
is not even 12 hours old. I guess I'm partly to blame for using my
name as the email, but what kind of crazy, mixed up Internet world are
we living in where we have to disguise our own names just so we can
have an email account void of "See Britney Spears nude!!!" messages in
our inbox? I can't even USE my old hotmail account (4+ years old) due
to all the porn spam I get since I'm sure even the subject lines would
get me fired.


Posted by: Kalel on July 9, 2002 10:36 AM

you get 50 SMS for $5?! I get 100 per month with Cingular for $2.99
What service provider do you use for your phone?

Posted by: Kalel on July 9, 2002 10:38 AM

also with Cingular I could bump up my SMS messages to where I could get 250
per month for $5.99 or 500 for $9.99

Posted by: ronb on July 9, 2002 10:52 AM

We pay 2 cents per, no minimum charge.

Posted by: ronb on July 9, 2002 10:54 AM

Sorry, that's on my wife's phone. Mine are no cost to receive, but don't
tell your spammer friend.

Posted by: ronb on July 9, 2002 11:19 AM

But to comment on the main point here ...

I had a similar situation when buying a new PC a year or so ago. Free
MSN for a year at Best Buy. Picked a user name at the register. Get
home, set up PC, log on and there is porn spam waiting for me.

What's it coming to? I really think this is going to be the death of
the Internet as we have known it. I've read plenty of ideas on how
spam might be dealt with. Most of the ideas plain aren't going to
work. Can't legislate something if you can't enforce it from
overseas. Can't charge for email unless EVERYONE, including overseas,
charges. Anything that might work is going to split us off onto a
separated sub-internet or require significant maintainence on the part
of the user. It's too bad, really.

The only thing I can think of is if you use a private domain name,
spammers will be less apt to find it. But that costs you extra and you
make your email address that much harder for people to remember. As
for SMS, the network is a lot more under control, and with fewer
players. The providers will have to deal with it or people will churn.

Posted by: Wes on July 9, 2002 11:55 AM

Thanks for the comments guys, I'll have to check my bill to see what
I'm currently paying for my SMS package. I'm with Cingular and when I
signed up earlier this year, the deal included a $4.99 messaging
package. It's possible I've been moved to a newer, cheaper SMS plan or
that I'm still paying a premium because I haven't bothered to look. :)

On another note, did anyone who is subscribed to get notifications
when I post an article (sign up on the front page if you missed it)
get two copies of the notification email? I got two myself and I want
to make sure the system isn't doubling up for some reason.

Posted by: Steve on July 9, 2002 12:48 PM

Re: Spam. Don't feel bad. I work for IBM and one of the hot items on
the company intranet is how to deal with spam. Apparently some wise
person listed the entire company directory on the IBM website a few
years ago, thinking it would facilitate communications between
potential customers and IBMers. What it did is open the entire company
e-mail system to spam. They're able to filter a lot, but employees
still get the occasional porn or commercial spam. Some folks are
getting overloaded by it ... Sigh...

Posted by: PDA Gerbil on July 9, 2002 01:00 PM

You guys PAY to recieve SMS????? Weird. Here is the UK it's sender pays - a
much better system. You phone, you pay, you SMS, you pay, fair really.

RE: 10 cents per SMS

Looking at Cingular's messaging pricing here: it would seem I'm getting
the short end of the stick if I'm still paying $5 for 50 messages.

Reminds me of my good 'ol days with Sprint PCS (what am I talking
about, I still have two phones with them. :( ) when you'd have to call
in every few months to switch to the new, cheaper pricing plan to get
more hours and goodies. The catch was every time you changed your
plan, you committed to another year of service from that point
forward. Sneaky dogs.

I'll call Cingular and get a better SMS plan if I don't already have it,
besides I need to get GPRS up and running on my phone pronto.

Posted by: Michael Ducker on July 9, 2002 03:52 PM

I get 500 SMS messages for $2.99 extra from VoiceStream. That's on top of
the 50 that are included.

Plus, receiving SMS on voicestream AFAIK is always free :)

Posted by: scottmag on July 9, 2002 03:55 PM

I don't want to open a can of worms here, but this is one area where
the U.K. "caller/sender pays" system is far superior. Spam is
absolutely destoying the Internet's "killer app" - email.

I just read a great article on spam and email filtering in the latest
issue of TidBITS. Check it out here:

I highly recommend it. (TidBITS itself is mainly Mac-focused, but I highly
recommend it as well.)


Posted by: Wes on July 9, 2002 06:29 PM

RE #2: 10 cents per SMS

Ok so I've figured it out after looking at my bill and Cingular's
offerings. I pay $4 a month to use my minutes as data minutes, then
$2.99 for wireless messaging (100 messages apparently), with every
message over my allotment costing me 10 cents. I knew I had a dime per
message in there somewhere, just in the wrong place.

I've updated the story a little to reflect my confusion of my Cingular
bill where even the itemizations are itemized. Now I see why I simply
look at the total, and if it's near what I expected to pay, I pay
it. I'm just the type of sheep .. err I mean consumer the phone
companies love for this very reason.

So to conclude, this spam cost me 3 cents since I haven't used up my
100 messages, unless of course I get 50 free additional messages with
my internet package, bringing the total cost to 2 cents. :)

Posted by: Shane on July 10, 2002 11:03 AM

I fixed my SMS message problem with getting spam. I'm a Voicestream
customer so SNS messaging is included, but it eats into my minutes. I
got a spam message once, and what I did was call the number back that
was listed in the message, and told the answering service that
answered that if they continue to send me messages to my phone, that
it costs me money. If they did not immediately stop sending me
messages I would report them to the FCC and also to the Better
Business Bureau for harassment. It worked like a charm, and I never
got another message.

As for the Hotmail account, I've learned that you can't use your real
name or any version of it. What I've found to be the biggest
contributor of spam to my Hotmail mailbox is the Hotmail service
itself. I hate my AOL account, because it gets so much crap from other
AOL members. I've started to just report any and all objectional
pieces of e-mail to AOL.

Posted by: RLBorg on July 11, 2002 07:29 AM

Well, MS hotmail seems to be a hot bed of spam. I don't use my name on my
hotmail, but constantly get the junk anyway. My guess is that MS allows
companies to spam to pay for the service. I get far more spam their than I
get in any of my other email ids.

Posted by: Arminius on July 11, 2002 07:41 AM

You use Sprint??? HAHAHA :P

Posted by: nobody on July 15, 2002 09:14 AM

Wes, What would you expect from Microsoft services? I mean really,
Hotmail, MSN? MSFT is like a junky and needs massive amounts of green
in it's veins. Income from SPAM is probably part of their business
plan for those "services".

I'll bet if you read the fine print you'll see that you gave them the
rights to everything that goes thru their servers. So don't write or
email any articles on those accounts that you want to copyright.

Netscape or Yahoo will be better about this. After all, they've not
been found guilty of illegal business practices.


My thanks to Wes Salmon for allowing the use of this old thread (not
that old, really) on cellphone spam via Cingular. Patrick just now
told me he has gone for years with his cell phone and never gotten
any spam through the email function; now in the past two weeks, two
blasts of it, five or ten pieces at a time.


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