Phone Spam

Get ready. Your phone is not your own. I got my first text message spam yesterday. It was one of the cheap-pharmaceutical kind, for Viagra. When you own your business, you publish your phone number. When you publish your phone number, it’s hard to keep it private. But I never expected that. Verizon, my phone provider, is, of course no help at all. I’ve seldom seen a company with worse customer service.

There is no way to block numbers on my cell phone. All I can do is erase the message–that I paid for. That’s the killer. I have to pay for incoming text messages, and I’m sure this was just the first.

I can’t hide my business number, but I may have to invent a way to post it that doesn’t let web spiders pick it up. Maybe putting the area code behind the number. Anyone else have a good idea? I’m not looking forward to sifting through messages and paying for spam.

(c) Quinn McDonald, 2007. All rights reserved. See Quinns work at

8 thoughts on “Phone Spam

  1. I’ve found two ways to get around the system. One is to publish my email using the [at] and [dot] com, which doesn’t read like an email. That, of course, makes getting my phone number a two-step process. The other one is to publish my phone number and put the area codes at the end, like this: 555-5555, area code (555) That allows a number without web crawlers seeing it as a number. Till next week, that is.

  2. Perhaps a really useless kind of suggestion is to just publish your email and ask people to email you for your telephone number. It’s getting harder and harder to hide from the spammers no matter what you do, but at least that way you wouldn’t be paying for their text-spam to you (I’d send them a bill!).

  3. Although they do not sell it for marketing, advertising or spam purposes… there are databases out there like which can be used… so even if you “mask” your phone number it is already out “there” for sale… at least the prices will keep the lowest of the low away the fact that you can buy a list of every cell number in the USA in text message email format for cheap email sms messages enables many to be able to “spam” you. When you have a cell phone number list or cell phone number database with the carrier domain name you basically have the ability to send.

    It will all come down to the ability to filter just like email.

  4. Yup, Nokia. I can’t check Verizon’s system because they don’t buy any phones from us. I can tell you that Verizon’s cell systems tend to be older than other carriers, which might explain why they don’t offer any blocking (if they don’t). For system quality and digital services I’d recommend T-Mobile, although their coverage isn’t complete in some areas. Or you could just move to Europe or the far east; they’re quite a bit ahead of the US in most areas of mobile technology. Probably all technology, actually, other than technology intended to kill.

  5. Hey Pete–Speak to Verizon? Are you kidding? I’ll be on hold till I retire, and have to listen to so many offers that my ears bleed. By the time I get to speak to someone, they’ll tell me it’s my fault and won’t have an answer, but will tell me to go online. Verizon was the one who, when I found and error on their invoice, told me “we never make mistakes.” No thanks. I’d rather eat glass than try to solve a problem through Verizon customer service. You work for Nokia, don’t you?

  6. Paul is right; that works. Check with your cellphone carrier; many are starting to offer various blocking services.

    There are other ways to obscure your contact information from software but make it clear to humans — some people spell out numbers (Six-Zero-Three…) or insert other characters in the middle (JOHN at DOE dot COM).

  7. Try creating a graphic with the phone number on it, and insert it where the number would appear. That way, the spambots will only see the graphic code but not the content. I used to do this for my e-mail address and it seemed to help.

    If the graphic uses the same font and background color as the rest of the page, viewers probably won’t even notice.

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