[telecom] FTC vs. phone text-spam. Maybe

[FTC press release]

In eight different complaints filed in courts around the United States, the FTC charged 29 defendants with collectively sending more than 180 million unwanted text messages to consumers, many of whom had to pay for receiving the texts. The messages promised consumers free gifts or prizes, including gift cards worth $1,000 to major retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Target. Consumers who clicked on the links in the messages found themselves caught in a confusing and elaborate process that required them to provide sensitive personal information, apply for credit or pay to subscribe to services to get the supposedly "free" cards. ======

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- A question for our SMS mavens. Per the NY Times article [a]:

"Spam waves have become much more frequent since phone companies began offering unlimited text-messaging plans. Now, spammers buy hundreds of SIM cards, the chips that make cellphones work, allowing them to send a flood of messages and then abandon the phone numbers."

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- I'm wondering about that for a couple of reasons. First is that you'd (the spammer, that is) still have to type in each msg into the phone. That kind of limits it to a hundred or so per hour.

- Now that's a big number, but it ain't a BIG number.

Are there computerized phone/sms/SIMcard thingees? I've never seen one but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

That being said, it should be trivial for any legit cellco to rate-limit a subscriber's SMS throughput.

Pretty much all the phone-sms spam I've received has been through an e-mail-to-sms gateway. Which, of course, brings up that whole issue of why the (recipient) cellcos don't offer a "block" of those msgs while still allowing "from another cell phone" ones.

_____________________________________________________ Knowledge may be power, but communications is the key snipped-for-privacy@panix.com [to foil spammers, my address has been double rot-13 encoded]

Reply to
danny burstein
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Yes, of course. Do a search for GSM SMS gateway and you'll find plenty of them, some with what looks like a SIM jukebox.

You'd think so, wouldn't you? But remember that they get paid for each SMS.

Reply to
John Levine

You bet. Any cellular modem can do it: AT+CMGS="NPANXXXXXX" followed by CR, message, and control-Z. Multi-Tech seems to be the biggest maker of stand-alone cellular modems these days; they are sold mainly into the integrator market, where they end up in fleet-management systems, security systems, and similar devices. We have one at work (for Verizon's IS-95/IS-2000 network) that runs our emergency paging system; it's driven by a Python script called from Nagios. Having one ensures that we can get alerted when our Internet connection goes down -- which wouldn't work if we used PagerDuty or sent email directory to carrier SMS-Email gateways. (Having a distinctive number is also necessary on some phones for distinctive alert tones -- on my phone I have a recording of an old Motorola pager that is triggered when there's an incoming SMS from our number.)

-GAWollman (writing, just this once, as the network administrator of MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the host institution of TELECOM Digest for nearly two decades)

Reply to
Garrett Wollman

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