[LINK] mobile phone spam

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Sun Jun 15 08:10:31 AEST 2008

If my reading of (a) the Australian situation (that you pay to send SMS 
not to receive them), (b) the regulations and (c) general scam 
literature suggests that the scam works like this:
Scammer >> spam SMS to customer: "Reply for free ringtones! (etc)"*
Customer >> hits reply, gets free ringtone*
Scammer treats reply as "Yes I want to subscribe to your free 
ringtones*" (See our Web page for terms, conditions, and prices)
Scammer sends premium SMSs to subscribers and charges.

* Free ringtones aren't the only content. Just a handy example. "Prize 
draws" is another popular scam.

1) The scam depends on a response from the customer.
2) You're charged as a "subscription to premium content", which isn't 
the same as "fee to retrieve the SMS message".
3) It's an ACCC matter, really: misleading and deceptive conduct from 
the premium service provider.
4) Once you're subscribed to any premium service, it's not the job of 
the carrier to "filter" the messages. How can 
Telstra/Optus/Vodafone/Hutchison tell the difference between a real 
subscriber and someone who's been scammed?
5) Regarding your daughter, I would suggest three complaint mechanisms: 
the TIO, the ACCC, and the 190 services complaints body (www.tissc.com.au).

Richard C

Fred Pilcher wrote:
> More of a scam than a spam. I received this the other day - apologies 
> for its length:
> * * * * *
> A number of officers responsible for (ACT Govt Dpt) mobile phones have 
> recently identified charges on their "Mobile Service Statement" that 
> relate to unsolicited SMS contacts.  It should be noted these numbers 
> can be charged under the heading "Enhanced Features".
> (ACT Govt Dpt)  have confirmed the SMS function on mobile phones enables 
>   proscribed services to forward unsolicited data to random mobile 
> numbers, at a cost to the mobile number.
> These proscribed services are to mobile phones what SPAM is to a 
> computer.  It is virtually impossible for Optus, our telephone service 
> provider, to filter and prevent access.  Pending legislative control, 
> all staff using mobile phones/PDAs must be vigilant when checking SMS 
> content prior to opening or responding to messages.  Such messages once 
> received, whether answered or deleted, provide the prescribed service 
> access to the account.  Once accessed, your handset will be charged for 
> each additional message until stopped.
> The only mechanism currently available to stop unsolicited SMS messages 
> once they have made initial contact, is by the user opening the message 
> and sending "STOP" via reply text.  This action will incur the cost of 
> the text; however, this will be considerably smaller than receipt of 
> future unsolicited messages.
> Do not just delete the message.  As soon as a company has reached your
> handset they have full access to send repeat messages, at a cost to the
> handset holder, regardless of whether you open or delete.  YOU MUST TEXT
> "STOP" (in capital letters) via reply.
> Where unsolicited SMS messages are registering on monthly Mobile
> Statements, the staff member should retain records, and brief their
> supervisor on the situation as soon as possible and agree to a course of
> action.  Optus may be able to stop some unsolicited SMS messages;
> however, most of these will require intervention by the handset holder.
> * * * * *
> My youngest daughter was hit by one of these and lost $60 from her
> prepaid account.
> "As soon as a company has reached your
> handset they have full access to send repeat messages, at a cost to the
> handset holder, regardless of whether you open or delete."
> How can that be right? Am I missing something? Anyone who calls my phone 
>    effectively has carte blanche on my account? Isn't that like saying 
> that anyone I pay a cheque to has open slather on my bank account? How 
> can that be legal?
> Fred
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