The Silicon Valley Voice

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Cell Phone Users Beware

Nearly everyone has received a spam text. The texts, typically stating the recipient will “receive a FREE $50 Target Gift voucher” by calling a specific number or telling the owner of the phone number they can “reduce [their] mortgage by 50 percent” by responding, are unwarranted and definitely unwanted.

Unfortunately, the only way to avoid such texts is to eliminate a cell phone. Spam text messages have become the equivalent of solicitors calling a phone number, however, there is no Do Not Text Registry. When a telemarketer calls a phone number and the customer complains the company is required to remove the number from its list. The same rules do not necessarily apply to cell phones. And, providing a phone number on a social networking site or even business card can quickly raise the number of spam texts a person receives.

After replying to such text messages with the required “stop” to end the harassment and ignoring the messages completely, many lash out through a text response at the person, or computer, sending the solicitation.

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This can backfire.

Rich, a Sprint customer service employee who was unable to provide his last name, said any response other than “stop” can be seen as a green light for the company. Rich stated that simply ignoring the text or sending an angry response, may prompt the company to bill the phone number for its services. “You have to be very careful how you respond,” said Rich.

A $9.99 charge might show up as “Silicon Investments: Alerts 36713_My fun alts” on a customer’s bill. Most customers, however, do not take the extra time to look at all of the charges each month. Many download paid for applications or pay extra for Internet browsing fees and completely miss the charge. Those who do catch the unauthorized fee can complain to their providers. Most wireless carriers, like Sprint, will gladly reverse the charge and block the number when the customer makes a request.

It appears as if many people pay the fees, not realizing they have been scammed. A website, Scambook (www.scambook.com), is full of complaints about Silicon Investments. And, a quick Internet search for Silicon Investments, found the firm to be an offshore company. But, other than an undetermined location (possibly the United Kingdom), actual information on the company itself was limited.

Regardless, whomever is behind Silicon Investments, or any of the other fake companies showing up on cell phone bills, is making a killing of the average person’s neglect.

SPONSORED
Kaiser Permanente

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