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The cost of fielding complaints from exasperated customers outweighs any revenue the wireless companies get from spam messages, Cloudmark’s Reading reckons.

(To ensure that’s the case, follow up your spam reports by calling up your wireless provider and asking to have the relevant text-message charge removed from your bill.) Reading tells me his company’s latest spam filter has the capacity to identify and block most of the current wave of mobile scams before they reach customers.

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” “You have 1 unread message from your secret crush! I ignored some, replied “STOP” to others, and even tried calling back in the vain hope of confronting my tormentors. I’ve long known not to click the links in spam emails, but 10 years of spam-free cellphone ownership had lulled me into complacency when it came to texts.

Every buzz meant another text message charge on my bill. As I belatedly realized, a reply of any kind confirms to cellphone spammers that they’ve reached a working number—which they can then sell to other spammers.

But there’s also a possibility the problem will get much worse before it gets better.

For a grim picture of the future, one has only to look to China, where unlimited text plans have been widely available much longer. wireless carriers didn’t look to China several years ago and start preparing for the deluge.

The past three years, however, have brought a proliferation of cheap, prepaid cellphone plans with unlimited text messaging. In 2009, Americans received some 2.2 billion text messages that they identified as spam, by the estimate of Richi Jennings, an independent market analyst. But even that figure doesn’t capture the biggest boom, which has come in just the past few months, according to Cloudmark, a San Francisco-based firm that provides messaging security for major wireless carriers.

But that method was easily stymied, because wireless companies can separately track and filter such messages.

Several wireless providers are in the process of deploying it.

If he’s right, perhaps mobile spam will be held down to the level of a minor annoyance for most.

” Follow the link and it will admit that some “testing and participation” is required before you claim your prize.

It first asks you to confirm your email address, then requests your name, date of birth, phone number, and mailing address.

And thanks to a fiendish device called a SIM box, the spammers can plug dozens, even hundreds, of SIM cards—each representing a different mobile phone number—into a single phone.

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