[LINK] mobile phone spam

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Fri Jun 13 16:20:39 AEST 2008

Can people block net-sms-spam in Australia, anyone know?

How to Block Cellphone Spam

June 12th 2008

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

"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 

"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 

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 

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.

Visit David Pogue on the Web at www.DavidPogue.com

Cheers people
Stephen Loosley
Victoria Australia

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