Mobile text spam is illegal. Two federal laws outlaw unauthorized spam text messages. The Can Spam Act and the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) both provide consumers protection against unauthorized commercial text messaging. As consumer you have remedies to report and stop text spammers. Text messaging has not yet been infected by masses of spam to the degree that the cancerous like email spam has hurt the email system. The reason that mobile text spam has not spread as fast as email spam is because mobile phone users have rights and remedies to fight text spam. If we work together, using the remedies listed here, we can STOP text spam now.
First of all, know thy rights: Under the TCPA auto dialed spam text sent to a mobile phone is illegal if: (1) you did not give the sender permission to send you the text message or (2) it is not a text message for emergency purposes (as defined by FCC rules). Therefore, if you did not consent to the automated free Walmart (Target, Amazon, name that scam) Gift Card coupon text message, chances are it is not an emergency to send you that offer, and thus, it is likely illegal.
A common misperception is that spam text is permitted unless you have listed your number on the National Do Not Call List. Not true. Calls to a mobile number need not be on the do not call list to be banned and cellular text messages are calls under the TCPA. If, in fact, you did list your cell number on the National Do-Not-Call-List then you may have a second additional violation of the TCPA but it is not required.
So what can you do to STOP the illegal text spam?:
First you can report the spam phone numbers to the Federal Trade Commission (F.T.C.) and the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.). Both agencies have tools to report mobile spam on their websites.
Another option involves reporting the text spammers to your wireless carrier to block the numbers. Many of the cellular companies also claim to act on their own to block mobile spam. One may think twice about those efforts if the carriers are paid per text and so make money for every spam message that is sent and later blocked. Over millions of users and billions of messages, those text fees add up. Perhaps now that many users are moving to flat fee or unlimited text message plans the wireless carriers will have an incentive to block text spam as they no longer directly profit from each text message under those plans.
Additionally, as with email spam, text users can now purchase text spam filters to weed out unwanted commercial text spam. You can download apps for Android and the I Phone that can filter and block spam text. But in reality, based on our experience with email spam, these protections still result in wasted time, expense and often do not work well. Above all, why should consumers have to take action to keep from being harassed with ads on their own phone?
The best remedy for consumers is to take action against the mobile spammers. Under the TCPA unauthorized spammers owe $500.00 per text that they send to consumers in violation of the TCPA. The damages can even be trebled, yes another $1,500.00 per illegal spam text sent to consumers for intentional violations of the TCPA. Look for an attorney experienced in fighting illegal spam text. Remember if you have now, or if you have ever been sent spam text messages, the TCPA is a law that protects you and pays you up to $1,500.00 per text. If we all work together to enforce the TCPA through private action, we will protect our privacy and protect our text messaging from being ruined by spam like email has been ruined by spam.
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