Stop Text Spammers Using The FCC

by Jhet Bhlak on April 11, 2012

Monday morning I received a text spam at 2:20 AM. Getting text spam in general is highly annoying but getting text spam at two in the morning takes it to a whole new level. I have a hard enough time getting sleep and being woke up by a stupid spam text message in the middle of the night does not help.

I have my phone on the Do Not Call List for a reason. It’s because I don’t want random garbage calls or texts. So when I actually do receive a spam text, it motivates me to actually take action.

The first thing I do when I receive text spam is to file a spam complaint with the FCC. Filing a complaint is relatively easy.

Step 1: Start Filing An FCC Complaint

Go to http://www.fcc.gov/complaints and start the complaint process by choosing a complaint type. In the case of text spam sent to your phone you select:

  • Telemarketing, Prerecorded Messages, Caller ID Spoofing, and Do-Not-Call

Click the picture below to see the actual form

 

Step 2: Categorize Your Complaint

Once you submit this part of the form you will be taken to the second step where you choose the category for your spam report. For text spam sent to your phone choose the following:

  • Live telemarketing calls (including Do-Not-Call), prerecorded messages, advertising text messages, unsolicited commercial emails, ‘Abandoned Calls’, or ‘War Dialing’ received on a wireless phone

 

Step 3: Choose Your Complaint Method

Next you choose the filing method. The FCC suggests you use the online form (1088G). To be honest, this is the quickest and easiest way to do this. Click the Continue to Online Form button button at the bottom to be taken to the next screen.

 

Step 4: Filling Out The 1088G Form

At this point you will need to fill out the Form 1088G: Wireless Communications Device form.

 

Step 5: Detailed Information?

Once you submit the 1088G form, another form will show up. This one is much longer and asks for phone numbers, addresses and any other information you have on the company that sent you the spam text message.

Try and provide as much information as possible. In my case, I decided to try and track down the company name and phone numbers based off of the URL that was included in the text message. I went to DomainTools.com and was able to find the phone number, address and parent company of the spammer.

Thisform was much longer so there is no screenshot.

 

Step 6: Confirmation

Confirmation! At this point you should see your confirmation number on a screen similar to the one below:

Step 7: Your Cell Phone Provider

Why stop with the FCC? Your cell phone provider should also have instructions on how to report the text spam to them as well. I have T-Mobile and it was very easy.

  1. Forward the spam text to 7726.
  2. Receive a confirmation and reply with the phone number that sent the spam message to you.

If your not an online type of person, you can also file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554

Step 8: Do Not Call Complaint

Next up, file a complaint with donotcall.gov if you have added your number to the do-not-call list. This should take no more than a couple of minutes.

 

Step 9: Still not satisfied?

After having another spam incident on my cell phone I decided to dig around a bit more and see what else I could find. Unfortunately, I do not have an Android cell phone yet so if anyone tries these out let me know how you like them please!

    1. Free Android App: I Hate Mobile Spam!
      • Block spam SMS messages
      • Define your “black list” of untrusted phone numbers
      • Create a dictionary of spam keywords
      • Block all messages from “operator sender numbers”
      • View blocked messages to learn what exactly was removed
    2. Android App: BlackList Pro
    • Call filter and SMS filter tool
    • Block undesirable calls and text messages from your device
    • Import entire contact lists into your black list or add a custom number not in your phone book
    • Quick on and off button
    • Disable or enable entire call logs

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Fred May 5, 2012 at 10:43 am

This is useless. The FCC can’t possibly have the resources to do anything about SPAM, m-SPAM or anything else.
We signed up on the DO-NOT-CALL site years ago and get as many if not more unsolicited calls than ever.
For texting – I just turned it off – it’s a phone. I’m not paying for unsolicited texts.
Unfortunately, providers such as Verizon couldn’t care less… THEY MAKE MONEY from it!

Reply

Jhet Bhlak May 7, 2012 at 8:11 am

I wouldn’t say it’s useless. Sure if only a couple of people send in the spam complaints the FCC will not view it as an issue and won’t pursue it. However, if they see a pattern that ties back to a particular company I believe they will go after them. If for no other reason, they will want to levy and collect the fines. In fact, the government is coming down pretty hard on the advertising practices of internet affiliate companies.

As far as “just turn it off”, well then you should just turn off the internet to get rid of email spam. Turn off the TV to get rid of all those stupid commercials. Turn off the radio too. If ‘turn it off’ works for you that’s great. Most people won’t view that as an option though.

PS – The domain name that was sending the text messages is now shut down.

Reply

Jhet Bhlak May 9, 2012 at 8:15 am

This is the reply that the FTC sends after they receive and process your report:

Dear Consumer:

Re: Case # #######

Thank you for contacting the FCC regarding possible violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and the Commission’s telemarketing and junk fax rules. Information provided in consumer complaints like yours helps the Commission to combat abusive or unlawful practices in these areas, including taking enforcement actions against individuals or companies. In this regard, the Communications Act authorizes the Commission to issue citations and, in some cases, impose substantial fines upon entities that violate telemarketing and junk fax rules.

Although the Commission does not resolve individual complaints, each complaint is individually analyzed and assists us in enforcement actions to protect consumers like yourself. You should be aware that the TCPA also provides for enforcement of the telemarketing and junk fax rules by state attorneys general and by individual consumers. With respect to the latter, the TCPA permits individuals who have received certain unlawful telemarketing, such as junk faxes or telemarketing calls, to sue the violator in state courts where they may be awarded up to $1500 for each violation.

We invite you to visit the FCC’s Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau’s Internet web site at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb for more information. You may also call the FCC’s Consumer Center toll free at 1-888-CALL-FCC [1-888-225-5322], TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC [1-888-835-5322].

Sincerely,

Sharon C. Bowers, Division Chief
Consumer Inquiries & Complaints Division
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

Reply

Bill November 13, 2012 at 5:42 pm

It is already illegal to telemarket to cell phones. Putting a cell phone number on a do not call registry just gives people who don’t care about the law one more way to get a working number to call.

Reply

Jhet Bhlak November 13, 2012 at 8:31 pm

According to the FTC…you’re right! Both on and off the DNC I’ve gotten calls unfortunately.

http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/04/dnc.shtm

Reply

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