Watch Out: Spam Texts Could Be Text Scams

Ah, for the days when phone slammers had to actually call you in order to enroll you in services you don’t want. P.W. tells Consumerist that he received a few texts from an unknown shortcode number, most likely wrote them off as spam, and ignored them. Until he noticed a mysterious $10 charge on his phone bill.

Today I happened to notice at the very end of my AT&T wireless bill, a charge of 9.99 for something called “Love Alerts”… it seemed to indicate that my NEXT charge would be on 1/16/2011. Since I have never received any “Love Alerts” and never wanted any, and frankly had no idea what they were, I called AT&T. Within a minute I was connected to a nice cheerful young fellow, and I proceeded to explain my problem. This young man acted as though this was a frequent and routine complaint.

Now I had looked at the date of this charge and had gone back through my text messages to see if there was anything I might have responded to that could have caused this charge… there was nothing. But when this young man looked at his end he noticed that this was the SECOND month I was being charged for this bogus service.

He was excellent. He refunded both charges, and set up a purchase block for me. Nothing can be purchased by texting from my phone without a code number being entered. So, hopefully, this won’t happen again.

But now that I knew that I had been charged for two months, I went back in my texts to the 16th of the previous month. There were 3 messages from number “340-95” Two of them informed me that I had enrolled in this service, and what I had to do to “opt out”, and one message looked like it was part of a conversation… except it was a conversation I never had and have no idea what it was about. (enclosed is a screen capture from my iPhone)

I am assuming the middle text was one of the “Love texts” I was charged $10.00 for.

My advice is that if you see a text message like this (and I did but just ignored it), contact your provider and make sure you aren’t somehow signed up for something without any action or consent on your part.

It’s not a bad idea to have purchase blocking put on your mobile account in general – especially if you’re on a family plan with anyone who is less scam-savvy than most Consumerist readers.