If you think you’ve seen an uptick in the number of spam texts showing up on your wireless phone in recent months, you’re not crazy. A new report claims that the number of those unwanted messages jumped 45% last year, totaling 4.5 billion texts in the U.S. alone.
Compared to autodialing phones from a landline, it’s relatively inexpensive and difficult to track text-based spam. All that’s needed is a prepaid phone and a low-cost unlimited text plan to go with it. From there, an autodialer takes over, sending out oodles of texts — for nonexistent offerings like free iPads, gift cards or cash — from a source that is not easily identified.
While most of us delete these texts immediately, all it takes for the spammer to install malware on a phone is for the recipient to click on the link.
Analysts tell Bloomberg that it likely costs wireless providers anywhere from $5 to $50 every time these companies have to resolve a complaint resulting from text spamming, which translates into huge costs even if only a fraction of a percent of users fall victim to spammers.
Unfortunately, not enough people are letting the federal government know about the problem. The Federal Trade Commission says it received around 2,600 complaints about text spam in 2011. But AT&T says it knows of one group of spammers responsible for more than 20 million violations.
Wireless industry group CTIA says that carriers are currently prepping to unveil a collaborative effort to fight text spam later this year.
In the meantime, if you want to let the FTC know exactly how pervasive this problem is, file a complaint HERE or call 1 877 FTC HELP.