LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) --Spam text messages are targeting cell phone users in Arkansas and across the country.
Many of these scammers are posing as major companies like Wal-mart to entice consumers. They want you to visit a special website where, of course, they're asking for your personal information. But the Attorney General's office and the Federal Communications Commission have some advice to prevent these schemes.
"It's very annoying. I get it once or twice a week. And every time I get it, I think wow. I don't have unlimited text message," says Carlton McMullen.
Replying STOP to the message may stop one scammer, but it doesn't prevent others that want you to type in bank account information on bogus websites.
Arkansas Senior Assistant Attorney General Sarah Tacker heads up the Consumer Protection Division.
"They are going to send a mass text message or email to mass phone numbers at one time and usually targeting prefixes that are known mobile number prefixes," says Tacker.
Tacker says there's several things you can do to protect yourself. Step one, add your number to the Do Not Call List. That still doesn't prevent scammers from texting you, but it helps federal agencies trying to enforce the law.
"What we've discovered is a lot of the text messages are originating outside of the United States," says Tacker.
Step two, contact your service provider about options to block text messages.
For example, Verizon Wireless allows you to set up Spam control for free online.
Step three, report the spam to the AG's office, Federal Trade Commission, or Federal Communications Commission. Step four, be careful who you give your number to.
These spam text messages are illegal under the 2003 "Can Spam" Act. The FCC recommends to reply STOP, but there's a theory that replying could just indicate to the spammer that you have a working number that can be resold.
• Contact the cell-phone service provider to find out if there are ways to reduce text spam. Some providers can block all text messages that originate from the Internet. Texts sent via the Internet are more likely than phone-to-phone texts to be scams.
More information about scam e-mail and text messages, as well as other consumer issues, is available at GotYourBackArkansas.org, the website of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. Also, consumers may contact the Division at (800) 482-8982 or (501) 682-2341.
• You can also file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. There is no charge for filing a complaint. You can file your complaint using an online complaint form. You can also file your complaint with the FCC's Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:
• Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
Both AT&T and Verizon have tools on their websites where you can block certain numbers from your phones.