SMS Spam Becoming Major Mobile Headache with No Recourse for Consumers

According to the startling findings of a recent and thoroughly eye-opening Direct Marketing Association survey, 43% or respondents have received “unsolicited SMS spam promoting accident claims or mis-selling financial services.” The sobering reality for SMS is that spammers have quickly latched on to the emerging marketing tactic to such a degree that it now threatens …   Read More

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According to the startling findings of a recent and thoroughly eye-opening Direct Marketing Association survey, 43% or respondents have received “unsolicited SMS spam promoting accident claims or mis-selling financial services.”

The sobering reality for SMS is that spammers have quickly latched on to the emerging marketing tactic to such a degree that it now threatens the future growth of this otherwise red-hot and widely embraced advertising platform.

“This is obviously causing great frustration for those mobile phone owners who are being plagued by spam,” says DMA chief of operations Mike Lordan, “and it’s also causing serious damage to the legitimate mobile marketing industry.”

“If spam is allowed to continue unchecked, then consumers will naturally become hostile to all mobile marketing messages,” he concluded.

Lordan’s comments echo the sentiments of Derek Johnson, founder & CEO of Tatango, who recently, in a guest commentary on MMW, expressed similar concerns about the spam-SMS connection.

“What will cause the demise of SMS marketing as we know it?” Johnson asked in the post. “Simple. The continued practice of SMS providers allowing businesses the ability to import customer phone numbers into an SMS campaign, bypassing their need to receive the customers permission through an opt-in.”

Perhaps what’s most unsettling about the unwanted practice of SMS spamming is the fact that many mobile customers simply don’t know how to address the problem.

The DMA survey, for example, found that 46% of respondents had “no idea who they would complain to,” while another 17% would complain to their network provider.

Ultimately, however, Johnson touched on what may be the only truly viable and effective solution to eliminating – or at least seriously mitigating – the practice of SMS spamming.

“I’m calling for all SMS providers to band together and put a stop to this self-destructive practice.,” Johnson urges. “If we don’t act now, my nightmares will soon become our harsh reality.”

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8 comments

  1. Derek Johnson

    Thanks Jonathan, must have been a temporary glitch, I tried to submit it and it just hung there last time. I'll shoot you over an email, look forward to connecting.

  2. Jonathan Madnick

    I have run www . Usshortcodeswhois .com since 2005. Although I am not the correct destination for complaints, many people contact me to complain about spam from a short code. In fact, there are a couple of carriers who tell people who call them to call my number. Jeff, you believe most is coming from smtp or 10-digit mobile numbers, but I have not seen any empirical data to substantiate that belief. The study mentioned in the article is from the UK, not the US. Do they Evan have SMTP to SMS in the UK.
    Accusing SMTP and 10-digit mobile numbers is not the right answer, in my view. How about a central CTIA sponsored body to take any and all spam accusations? Fund this from those high short code lease costs we all pay to usshortcodes.com.

    1. Derek Johnson

      Love the site. I tried to submit our short code, but the contact form was broken. What email address can I reach you at?

  3. Jeff Judge

    Agreed this is a huge problem – we've taken strong measures within our product to prevent this. I think if you look at the source of a lot of SMS spam in the US, I believe most of is coming from SMTP (email-to-text) and 10-digit mobile numbers that are unregulated and don't have to follow the same messaging rules that short codes have to. By unregulated, I mean unaudited by the MMA, CTIA and carriers. The costs are simply too high (by way of short code and aggregation commitment) and ability to identify spammers too easy (with approved programs and regulation) to use short codes for spamming purposes.

    1. Derek Johnson

      Jeff, just checked out your website, it looks like you allow the practice of importing phone numbers into a campaign. http://www.signalhq.com/features/subscription-lis… This I believe is the reason for the majority of SMS SPAM in the USA. Be sure to read my article about this here: http://www.signalhq.com/features/subscription-lis… I'd love to hear your thoughts regarding this practice.

  4. consumer

    In the US, many mobile operators are already acting on this through 7726 (SPAM). At least AT&T has it up and running. I just sent the spam messages to 7726 (free). They seemed to take my concern seriously and started a quick text discussion on the number I received the spam from and thanking me for helping them. It was really helpful. Has the DMA looked into supporting/endorsing this approach?

    1. Derek Johnson

      Wait… how does this work, never heard of it before?

  5. Tom Chaudhry

    Spam is killing cyber world, life is fast enough now without being bombarded every seconded of the day with spam. Authorities need to do something fast.

Comments are closed.