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BizReport : Mobile Marketing : April 16, 2012

Mobile phones new target for spammers

It's clogged up email boxes and post boxes and now it's threatening to fill up mobile email inboxes, too. According to a new report from Ferris Research, a market research firm that tracks spam, unsolicited text messaging is becoming invasive.

by Helen Leggatt

Mobile users in the U.S. received approximately 4.5 billion spam text messages in 2011, more than double the 2.2 billion received in 2009, according to Ferris Research.
While not yet as pervasive as email spam, it has the potential to be as annoying and intrusive.

In addition, it's not easy to track down the perpetrators, Christine Todaro, a lawyer with the FTC, told the New York Times.

"Unsolicited text messaging is a pervasive problem," she said. "It is becoming very difficult to track down who is sending the spam. We encourage consumers to file complaints, which helps us track down the spammers, but even then it is a little bit like peeling back an onion."

Mobile spam is illegal under two federal laws - the 2003 Can Spam Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which set up the Do Not Call Registry in 2003.

Whether these efforts alone are enough to combat mobile spam remains to be seen. According to the New York Times mobile spammers are slippery fish and are "turning to large banks of phone numbers, regularly changing the websites they try to get consumers to click, and blasting their messages from the Internet using 'over the top messaging systems,' which let them send millions of messages cheaply. The moment a carrier blocks one number, spammers simply start using another."

The knock-on effect to mobile marketers is obvious. Mobile users will become less attentive to mobile messaging as the value and relevance of mobile messaging is damaged.

Tags: Can Spam, Do Not Call, mobile marketing, mobile messages, mobile spam, text messaging

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