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banditws6
Shrinking Time and Distance
Premium
join:2001-08-18
Frisco, TX
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

[Spam] SMS spam from 271-40 - Reply STOP or ignore?

I very rarely get SMS (text message) spam, and when I do it tends to be a one-off that doesn't repeat. Normally I ignore them. However, this evening I received two text messages within a couple minutes of each other from 271-40, reading as follows:

Message 1
HoroscopeGenie Alert: 3 horoscopes/wk for $9.99/mo Reply HELP for help, STOP to cancel Msg&data rates may apply. PIN xxxx

Message 2
Welcome to
HoroscopeGenie Alerts: 3 horoscopes/wk for $9.99/mo bill to cell Reply HELP for help, STOP to cancel Msg&data rates may apply.

In that first message, there was a 4-digit number in place of the "xxxx".

It looks like these messages are directly related to the service supposedly being offered at this website: www.horoscopegenie.com. This domain was registered at NameCheap on November 23rd, 2011. The date on their "full terms and conditions" page is today. I can find exactly nothing in Google about them. All of this suggests that it's a recently launched service (or scam, or whatever it is).

My real question is, should I reply STOP to these, or just ignore them as I usually do? The fact that I received two within minutes of each other makes me worry that somebody has signed up my mobile number and that I ought to send back a STOP command lest I be charged $9.99, but I know that with email the best thing to do is not reply to spam lest you give away your address as belonging to an actual human.

Any thoughts on this? Anyone else received unwanted texts from HoroscopeGenie?
--
"The counsel of fools is all the more dangerous the more of them there are." -Ólafr Höskuldsson

b_p_smith
Premium
join:2002-02-13
Merrickville, ON
Unfortunately the cell companies don't make any effort to stop SMS spam, since they collect a portion of the proceeds.
Since both were from the same number, I suspect you got signed up either by accident (typo) or deliberately. I'd reply STOP, since once you get charged, your cell company will make zero effort to deal with your complaints.
Some cell companies also allow you to forward SMS to a special number (eg. "7726" or "SPAM") to flag them. Check that out as well, but reply STOP regardless.

Brad.
--
RipNet (wireless) -} Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH running DD-WRT -} about 13 machines running Win 2008 R2, Win2003, Vista, Win7 & XP, plus miscellaneous devices.


carpetshark3
Premium
join:2004-02-12
Idledale, CO
reply to banditws6
Check with your carrier to see if you have been charged the $9.99.

It's been a problem.


freeze
I'm not even Greek
Premium
join:2001-05-13
Ohio
reply to banditws6
It's definitely a scam. I would go ahead and send STOP. :|

»callmefoxxy.hubpages.com/hub/Cel···-Stop-It

I strongly suggest you call your carrier and have them disable SMS short codes/block these types of messages. It's simply disgusting that receiving this message that you have to opt-out of automatically signs up for their billing process.


DC DSL
There's a reason I'm Command.
Premium
join:2000-07-30
Washington, DC
kudos:2
reply to banditws6
Don't respond. Contact your carrier and see what they can do. If you're not on an unlimited SMS plan, you may be able to at least be credited for them. Some carriers allow you to block third-party charges to your number, as well as from-Internet texting. (Blocking from-net will also block SMS from services/businesses you may actually want such as traffic or banking alerts, so take that into consideration.)
--
"Dance like the photo isn't being tagged; love like you've never been unfriended; and tweet like nobody is following."


freeze
I'm not even Greek
Premium
join:2001-05-13
Ohio
said by DC DSL:

Don't respond. Contact your carrier and see what they can do. If you're not on an unlimited SMS plan, you may be able to at least be credited for them. Some carriers allow you to block third-party charges to your number, as well as from-Internet texting. (Blocking from-net will also block SMS from services/businesses you may actually want such as traffic or banking alerts, so take that into consideration.)

I still think banditws6 See Profile should at least send STOP. and then DEFINITELY call his/her carrier.

Here's a DSLR news article about this type of billing scheme.

»AT&T, Verizon, Jawa Make Millions From SMS Scams?


DC DSL
There's a reason I'm Command.
Premium
join:2000-07-30
Washington, DC
kudos:2

1 recommendation

The reason to NOT reply is that most of those are blind-blasts from the Internet...no idea whether the numbers are live or not. Replying is like replying to email spam: It confirms that the address is live. Once that happens, there's no telling what kind of crap deluge is going to happen.
--
"Dance like the photo isn't being tagged; love like you've never been unfriended; and tweet like nobody is following."


banditws6
Shrinking Time and Distance
Premium
join:2001-08-18
Frisco, TX
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
reply to banditws6
Thanks for the info, all. In regards to sending a STOP command, I tend to lean toward DC DSL See Profile's advice to ignore it...if only because I have a sneaking suspicion, given the formatting of these texts I received, that they were indeed blind blasts. My reasoning:

1. The second message was almost identical to the first, except for "Welcome to" which was prepended hastily to the content (as well as an errant carriage return). This makes it seem like whoever wrote this sent their first blast, then realized they could add "Welcome to" to trick people into replying, fearing that they'd already been signed up.

2. Since HoroscopeGenie seems to be a recent startup, their operator(s) may be thinking they could get some quick leads out of the gate by scaring people into replying to these messages, which at best gives them a list of live phone numbers -- and at worst, gives them a list of numbers to subscribe against their owners' will.

3. I checked my wireless account but have not seen a $9.99 charge as yet.

I think for the moment I will risk not sending a reply to these texts. In the meantime I can call my wireless carrier and see if I can get shortcodes blocked, and also ask if they can offer any other advice...although I don't routinely consider AT&T support a bastion of good security tips.
--
"The counsel of fools is all the more dangerous the more of them there are." -Ólafr Höskuldsson


Stefani

@mycingular.net
This exact sane thing happened to me today. I immediately called AT&T. They advised me to always reply STOP when something like this happens. They also put a purchase blocker on my line for free. If I want to purchase anything I now have a PIN number I have to enter.


freeze
I'm not even Greek
Premium
join:2001-05-13
Ohio

1 recommendation

reply to banditws6
said by banditws6:

Thanks for the info, all. In regards to sending a STOP command, I tend to lean toward DC DSL See Profile's advice to ignore it...if only because I have a sneaking suspicion, given the formatting of these texts I received, that they were indeed blind blasts. My reasoning:

1. The second message was almost identical to the first, except for "Welcome to" which was prepended hastily to the content (as well as an errant carriage return). This makes it seem like whoever wrote this sent their first blast, then realized they could add "Welcome to" to trick people into replying, fearing that they'd already been signed up.

2. Since HoroscopeGenie seems to be a recent startup, their operator(s) may be thinking they could get some quick leads out of the gate by scaring people into replying to these messages, which at best gives them a list of live phone numbers -- and at worst, gives them a list of numbers to subscribe against their owners' will.

3. I checked my wireless account but have not seen a $9.99 charge as yet.

I think for the moment I will risk not sending a reply to these texts. In the meantime I can call my wireless carrier and see if I can get shortcodes blocked, and also ask if they can offer any other advice...although I don't routinely consider AT&T support a bastion of good security tips.

At the very least, I would call AT&T and get them to 'block 3rd party billing.'

I recently discovered a $9.95 recurring monthly charged on my mom's cell phone bill that she had been paying for a few months. After going back far enough into her text messages, I found one of those texts saying in essence, "Hey, thanks for subscribing to super fun games! Fees apply. To unsubscribe, send STOP." As an an avid e-mail user for the better part of 2 decades, I would have completely ignored this message.

Apparently receipt of that message is enough to initiate 3rd party billing, which all carriers enable by default. The carriers make a ton of money from this situation too... I know, this policy is incredibly stupid, but it has been exploited for a few years now.

Calling AT&T to block 3rd party billing, which they should do for free and without hassle, will:
(a) prevent you from paying for this scam 'service' or future 'services' in the future
(b) not reveal that you have an 'active cell phone number' to this potential scammer/active cell phone number harvester

I'm glad to hear that no additional charges are seen on your cell phone bill. Keep in mind though, that my Sprint bill's website tends to get updated after the next billing cycle... there's a chance you might be getting charged for this cycle. :x

If it makes you feel better, you number was probably signed up for this 'service' by a cell-phone number generator, and probably not gleamed from a website or other data-harvesting bot.

Sorry for sounding like a broken record... I just don't want to see anyone else get swindled out of his/her hard-earned money.

Good luck!


banditws6
Shrinking Time and Distance
Premium
join:2001-08-18
Frisco, TX
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
Thanks freeze See Profile, that gives me some excellent points to consider. Definitely going to give AT&T a call here after work, tell them to block third-party billing and try to head this off at the pass in case I did happen to get signed up. Hopefully I can kill two birds with one stone that way.

This would work well because I'm still wary of replying to this text myself, but it sounds like there's a greater chance that inaction could actually lead to unwanted billing than I first thought.
--
"The counsel of fools is all the more dangerous the more of them there are." -Ólafr Höskuldsson


freeze
I'm not even Greek
Premium
join:2001-05-13
Ohio
said by banditws6:

Thanks freeze See Profile, that gives me some excellent points to consider. Definitely going to give AT&T a call here after work, tell them to block third-party billing and try to head this off at the pass in case I did happen to get signed up. Hopefully I can kill two birds with one stone that way.

This would work well because I'm still wary of replying to this text myself, but it sounds like there's a greater chance that inaction could actually lead to unwanted billing than I first thought.

Hopefully the call with AT&T won't take too long.

Here's a short video on YouTube that explains the scam very well.

»www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9MQAfh-bCE

Source from: »www.azdisruptors.com/blog/2011/3···ing.html


banditws6
Shrinking Time and Distance
Premium
join:2001-08-18
Frisco, TX
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
Just got off the phone with AT&T...didn't take long at all. I had them verify that there were no unauthorized charges on my account, then I had them set up what they call "Purchase Blocker" on both of my lines so that SMS-based billing is disallowed. Sounds like this should take care of things, though I will post back if anything else untoward happens.

Thanks to everyone here for the help; I appreciate it!
--
"The counsel of fools is all the more dangerous the more of them there are." -Ólafr Höskuldsson


AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1
does Sprint have a similar feature?


freeze
I'm not even Greek
Premium
join:2001-05-13
Ohio
said by AVD:

does Sprint have a similar feature?

Yes.

I have it so 'SMS short codes are blocked' on all of my Sprint lines. I would request this feature via eChat so you have a record that they blocked 3rd party billing

»www.sprint.com/landings/chat/


J E F F
Whatta Ya Think About Dat?
Premium
join:2004-04-01
Kitchener, ON
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Rogers Portable ..
reply to banditws6
I think a friend played a trick on you. Always reply with a STOP. That $9.99 charge or whatever is the monthly premium SMS charge to your account.
--
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. - Albert Einstein


Iphoneuser

@rr.com
reply to banditws6
I just had this happen 1-31-2012. I have never even browsed horoscopes online let alone sign up for something like this. I called AT&T immediately and told them about it. They said to definitely text back STOP, and that the jerks had already started charging me $9.99/month. AT&T removed the charge and made sure I didn't have any other charges. I'll definitely be reporting these clowns to the FCC (where I report ALL spam texts). Definitely call your service provider and text STOP!


Shon

@sbcglobal.net
I had this happen to me about an hour ago. I called AT&T adn was told the same. Also I had been subscribed and was charged the $9.99/month. The charge was removed and I quickly opted for the purchase blocker for the phones I have there should be no charges unless I authorize them in the future.


DC DSL
There's a reason I'm Command.
Premium
join:2000-07-30
Washington, DC
kudos:2
reply to Iphoneuser
said by Iphoneuser :

I called AT&T immediately and told them about it. They said to definitely text back STOP, and that the jerks had already started charging me $9.99/month. AT&T removed the charge and made sure I didn't have any other charges. I'll definitely be reporting these clowns to the FCC (where I report ALL spam texts). Definitely call your service provider and text STOP!

Again, regardless of what the carrier says, I advise against replying if you put a billing block on your account. Miscreants may not be able to bill you but they can certainly continue to hit you with texts once they know the number is live (that will cost you money if you don't have an unlimited plan or one that has enough leeway for junk in addition to your regular use).
--
"Dance like the photo isn't being tagged; love like you've never been unfriended; and tweet like nobody is following."


Angel

@columbia.edu
reply to banditws6
Just got the texts. I'm on phone with AT&T now.

DigitalNC

join:2009-12-29
united state
reply to banditws6
You can file a complaint for HoroscopeGenie.com at this site:

»www.whoisguard.com/report-spam.asp

They registered the domain as private through Whois Guard but Whois Guard has a page to report that SMS SPAM. I just left a very stern message there, as well as one with AT & T.

I cant stand this garbage!

DigitalNC

join:2009-12-29
united state
reply to banditws6
I just got confirmation that these scum bags got my account charged for $9.99 even though I never had anything to do with them. Even if I were stupid enough to reply "stop", which I would never ever ever do that, they still didnt even give enough time as the second message came through moments later "confirming" my charge.

This is BS and I even emailed abuse@namecheap, abuse@whoisguard and demanded they shut down that web site ASAP.

DigitalNC

join:2009-12-29
united state
reply to Stefani
This is wrong advice. I emailed the AT*T president and requested that they stop giving this advice out.

IT PERPETUATES THE PROBLEM!!!!! But this is what the carrier wants because they get a cut of every premium charge on your phone.

This is such BS.

DigitalNC

join:2009-12-29
united state
reply to Iphoneuser
DO NOT reply STOP - ever!!!!!!!!! AT&T wants you to do this because this confirms your phone number and MAYBE, just maybe, some other scumbag spammer gets a charge through on your account and you dont notice it and AT&T gets a cut!!!!!

Zach1
Premium
join:2006-11-26
NW Minnesota
reply to banditws6
Had this same issue on my VZW phone. When I called, they also confirmed there were no pending charges. Two billing cycles later, the fraudulent charge was listed under "usage charges". I called again and VZW reversed the charge. Be sure to check your bill(s)! As an aside, I did not respond with "STOP" to the indicated short code. Member DC DSL pretty much nailed it with his reasoning about blasting.


RolteC
0h

join:2001-05-20
Fresh Meadows, NY
kudos:1
reply to banditws6
Just noticed this on my other cell phone! Being credited back now, and Purchase Block has been added on all lines.