I don’t know if this is happening to anyone else, but recently I have been getting spam text messages about “selling junk cars for cheap!!!” I’m not sure if it due to the fact that I recently switched to MetroPCS or I accidentally gave my cell number out to someone somewhere. I usually just delete the message and go on with my life, and wait to receive the next spam message so I can delete it again.
Until now, recently all of the major North American wireless carriers have deployed a centralized spam reporting service backed by GSMA, a global association of wireless carriers devoted to standardizing mobile phones. This service collects information about spam complaints from all participating carriers into a common database, which may make it easier for carriers to identify spammers and take action against them.
Here’s how it works:
When you receive a spam text message on your phone, forward that text to the shortcode 7726 (which spells “SPAM”). You’ll then receive an automated message from your wireless carrier, asking you then to enter the phone number from which the spam text was sent.
I found out about this too late, so I haven’t been able to test it on my phone, but Amy Gahran of CNN.com tested it using her phone. She reported the automated message she was getting from the Romney campaign, a service she actually signed up to receive. The Romney campaign sends texts from a common shortcode, a short telephone number that’s leased by the U.S. government for texting programs. This use is highly regulated. So when she responded to Verizon with the sender’s phone number, she received a response that said: “It is likely that your message came from a shortcode. Please return to the original message and reply STOP.” Any service that uses the shortcodes has to obey strict guidelines and rules, and if they break these rules they can have their lease of the shortcode revoked.
She then tried it on a spam text I had received from an ordinary phone number that claimed to be offering a Walmart gift card. After she got Verizon’s acknowledgment of the spam report and sent it the full 10-digit phone number of the spam sender, the system responded: “Thank you, we appreciate your assistance.” It also offered Verizon’s instructions for blocking text messages from a specific number.
Verizon didn’t give her any message saying any action has been taken, but whether or not it actually does work, it’s not too hard to forward a spam message to 7726 and a subsequent message with 10 digits. So whether or not this will actually work, I will be reporting the number the next time I get a message, just to see what happens.