Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spam-Cram epidemic means SMS dies sooner

The ailing hippo of SMS texting is under attack. iOS/OS X Message is at its throat, Google Voice SMS is on its back, and now the hyenas of spam-cram are on every limb.

Last November I thought SMS had only 2-3 years left, but since then text spam has taken off. Lately text spam seems to be used to trigger inadvertent cram-contracts, like the BuneUS Mblox cram that hit our family plan.

The attack rate may be higher than we think. Since I posted on this yesterday I've had 1 friend and 1 colleague tell me they discovered SMS-triggered spam-cram on their phone bill.  Incidentally, AT&T isn't always as quick to reverse charges as they were with me. [1]

From what I have learned about SIM-boxes and the history of spam-cram in China post unlimited texting, there's no fix coming. The only fix for cramming is for Verizon and AT&T to give up on selling ring tones and weather forecasts -- and to forego their 30-50% cut of cramming revenue. The only fix for SMS spam is to turn off SMS, or to turn off unlimited SMS then block traffic from networks that offer unlimited SMS.

Actually, I should say there's no carrier-fix coming. There is a simple fix:

  1. Phone immediately and put a block on "third party charges". (See details.)
  2. Stop using SMS. Start using iMessage or Google Voice -- and, no, they don't interoperate.

See also:

[1] I told the poor rep repeatedly that I wasn't angry with him and thought he was doing a fine job. I did tell him what I thought of AT&T and asked if he could pass that message on. I think the grinding of my teeth might have shortened the discussion time -- he skipped to the refund step immediately.

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