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Killing Unwanted Text Messages from Yahoo! Alerts? 388

Posted by Cliff
from the dealing-with-phone-spam dept.
Creighti asks: "When I first got my new cellphone I immediately received several automated Text Message 'Alerts' from Yahoo and MSN which recurred on a daily basis. My guess was (is) that the previous owner of my cell phone number signed up for these things. Six months later I'm still getting unwanted text messages from Yahoo! Alerts. I managed to get rid of the MSN messages by signing up with MSN (gack), registering the phone number as mine, and de-selecting all text messages. I've tried the same trick with Yahoo. I've tried filling out the Yahoo! Help form that appeared to apply (interestingly enough, the Yahoo Help entry I've used several times to request they stop sending the unwanted alert appears to have been removed, but clicking the 'No' button on this page would work). I've even tried emailing abuse@yahoo.com. Anyone else getting text-message spammed by Yahoo! (or any other service)? Any suggestions for what I should do next to try and get Yahoo! to stop sending these unwanted messages?" Why aren't the text message preferences deleted when the cancellation notices comes thru?
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Killing Unwanted Text Messages from Yahoo! Alerts?

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  • I would... (Score:4, Informative)

    by SaturnTim (445813) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:15PM (#4918170) Homepage

    Send them a bill. They are using your airtime, with something you didn't ask for. If they don't want to pay the bill, they will find a way to stop it.

    --T
    • Re:I would... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BrK (39585) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:19PM (#4918197) Homepage
      I'm sure Yahoo! would happily ignore your bill. If you were lucky it *might* get posted on the bulletin board, next to the cafeteria menu for the week, as humor.

      Unless the cellphone number has been given out to a lot of people, I would just change it. It's the path of least resistance...
      • Re:I would... (Score:3, Informative)

        by shepd (155729)
        >I'm sure Yahoo! would happily ignore your bill.

        And this gives you cause to sue them in small claims court.

        If the amount of messaging exceeds $50-$100, it could be worth suing them in small claims. They probably won't even show up, and a decision will be reached (probably in your favour) in absentia.

        Of course, IANAL, so don't follow that as legal advice. :-)
        • What if you get a ruling in your favor, and they just decide to ignore it? How do you collect your money?
          • What if you get a ruling in your favor, and they just decide to ignore it? How do you collect your money?

            I can't tell if you're trolling, or if you're really this dense.

            See, Small Claims COURT is a court of LAW ; judgements made there must be carried out and paid in full, else the guilty will face federal charges.

            Yeesh.. Do they let just anybody come here or what?

            • I worked in a municipal court over the summer. I watched a lot of people not get their money in small claims court.

              Now, if you win against somebody like Yahoo!, then you're probably pretty safe. They're a big target, and they're not particularly likely or able to hide themselves, and they probably won't go bankrupt due to a small claims suit. However, while getting a default judgement is relatively easy (it's your proof against them not showing up), it can be very difficult to track people to get them to pay. Often, people who get evicted move out and don't leave an address or number, or businesses who get sued simply "disappear", and there's no contact avaialbe for the person who ran the business. Once they find an personal address or place of employment or the place where they bank, they can garnish wages or accounts, or serve them for a debtors exam, where they would reveal all their assets.

              The bottom line is, once you get a judgement in your favor, it's not as easy as you think to get your money.
            • by Ooblek (544753) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @05:52PM (#4919000)
              My, you are full of yourself to call someone dense when you obviously have never gone through the process yourself.

              To add to the previous respondents that also said you're wrong, I can give an example of what happens in small claims. My brother went through this and it took him a year to collect his money.

              An established nursery business with several locations in a particular city in Oklahoma let one of their unlicensed, illegal immigrant workers drive one of their spare cars. This guy came barreling down the road, over the hill, and realized he was going too fast to avoid hitting the car that had stopped at the light in front of him. He swerved into oncoming traffic and nailed my brother head on as he was waiting in the oncoming turn lane. Police came, arrested illegal immigrant for no license and no insurance. My brothers car needed major work, and he only had liability as he had just paid it off a month before.

              Nursery came and bailed the guy out of jail. The nursery claimed they had sold the car to the guy, and "We're not responsible." My brother went to the DMV and had to pay to get the ownership records himself, as proof that they were the registered owners. He had to pay to file the claim in small claims court. He had to pay to have them served with a summons. They didn't show up to court, so he won. He sent them several letters, never got an acknowledgement or a dime from them.

              He went back to court a few months later with delivery receipts of the letters he had sent. He had to buy something from the nursery with a check so that he could figure out where their bank account was and what the number was. Once he had this information, he ask the court for a garnishment. It was granted, he went to the bank, and got about half of what he was owed because they didn't have enough in the account to cover the full amount. Another round of registered letters, another trip back to court, another garnishment, and he finally got to their bank account at a time when they had enough money to cover what he was owed and all the additional costs he had accrued trying to collect the money.

              This is the same wherever you go, and it even will work in your favor if you get sued. Just don't pay, and it can take months or years for them to get the money out of you, if they ever get it. Now, there is of course no guarentee you won't eventually piss some judge off and have a warrant issued for you.

              • To add to the previous respondents that also said you're wrong, I can give an example of what happens in small claims. My brother went through this and it took him a year to collect his money.

                Wow.. Can you add any more variables to that case? Illegal immigrant, no license, nursery without sufficient funds to cover costs, ...

                I never said it would be a one-day, zero expense endeavour, but it certainly doesn't involve a Columbo-esque plot or a potential international incident.

                Moreover; press attention would do wonders for this case. Yahoo! doesn't want their name smeared rightly across the headlines for something they could settle for $200. In all likelyhood they'd pay the money to get rid of you. They'll waste large amounts of legal funding on cases that matter.

        • >And this gives you cause to sue them in small claims court.

          Really? You can send anyone of your chossing a bill and then sue them just 'cause they didn't pay? How do you know you're even sending it to the proper accounts payable department?

          Granted that Yahoo! may in fact be causing this guys' cell phone bill to creap up $0.02 at a time (at least thats what text messages cost to my vzw phone), but I don't believe Yahoo is liable.

          They *should* however make it a fsck of a lot easier to get rid of these text messages.
          • Court (Score:3, Informative)

            by nuggz (69912)
            Really? You can send anyone of your chossing a bill and then sue them just 'cause they didn't pay? How do you know you're even sending it to the proper accounts payable department?

            Yes you can sue anyone for not paying a bill.
            In court they can just argue they're not the right person. That is why we have small claims court, to facilitate small claims cheaply and easily for all 3 parties. (You, them and the gov)
          • Really? You can send anyone of your chossing a bill and then sue them just 'cause they didn't pay? How do you know you're even sending it to the proper accounts payable department?

            Yes, you can. You will need to make a best effort to determine the appropriate address for their AP dept. Note that if you sue, you'd best be sure you had a legitimate reason for the billing, or they can sue you in return.

            In this case, there is a legitimate reason.

      • Re:I would... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by B.D.Mills (18626) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @05:24PM (#4918719)
        I'm sure Yahoo! would happily ignore your bill

        IANAL. Check with a lawyer, but you'll probably find the following to be correct.

        Legally, they CAN'T ignore such a bill that you choose to send them.

        Under US law, it is ILLEGAL for Yahoo! to send unsolicited advertising messages to a mobile device, such as a pager and the like. You can bill them up to $500 for EACH MESSAGE. So if he sends them a bill, legally they MUST PAY.

        Send them a message via certified snail mail, return receipt requested, explaining that the owner of the phone number has changed, and demanding immediate removal of your phone's details from the database. Tell them that failure to comply by a certain date will result in them paying penalties of up to $500 per message sent to your mobile device.

        And if the messages don't stop, send them a bill for $350 for each message, with a warning that failure to pay by a certain will result in court action being taken against Yahoo! and $500 being payable for each message.
    • Re:I would... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by IdleTime (561841)
      Why don't you just call Yahoo, use the phone man! That's what they are for. Then traverse the hierarcy until you find the one responsible, but start at the top.

      Just call them each time you get a message, sooner or later they'll get tired.
      • Re:I would... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Blkdeath (530393)
        Just call them each time you get a message, sooner or later they'll get tired.

        Uhm, yes and no. Speaking as someone who's recently had to deal with a Very Large Company who'd over-billed me (to the tune of $200 over four months), I can tell you that yes, perseverance will pay off. Not, however, because they get 'tired', but because eventually you'll speak to someone with reason, you'll speak calmly and plainly about the situation and they'll get you fixed up. It took me over a month of phone calls; level 1, 2, and 3 before I finally got a supervisor in the billing department who was kind enough to help me out. Now that I've received the cheque, I'll have to remember to write an appropriate letter of thanks. (My sister works in a call centre so I know they hear about things like that. So if someone goes the extra mile or even helps you when others won't - let them know! The guy might get a bonus or something out of it, and it'll certainly brighten their day.)

    • Re:I would... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mr. methane (593577) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:45PM (#4918408) Journal
      I had a similar problem with an on-line brokerage; I gave them my pager address so they could send trade confirmations, and ONLY trade confirmations. A few months later, I started getting pager spams at 2am, 3am, etc. from them. I called their customer service people, told them to stop, and they promised it would.

      When it started up a month or so later, I sent a registered letter to the CEO, calmly explaining that the first time is a mistake, the second time is harassment. I also filed complaints with the FCC, the NASD, the US attorney general, and their own attorney general.

      I got a polite, written response from a representative of the company explaining why the error occured, and also outlining the steps they were taking to make sure that it could not occur again.

      So... Be calm, be forgiving, and be factual. And then scream bloody murder.
    • Send them a bill. They are using your airtime, with something you didn't ask for. If they don't want to pay the bill, they will find a way to stop it

      Hah, post to Slashdot, we'll flatten their server for you!!

      Oh, wait...
  • Contact your telco (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dorward (129628) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:16PM (#4918172) Homepage Journal
    I suggest that instead of continuing to try to get Yahoo to stop sending the messages you instead contact your telephone company and ask them to block the messages before they get to your phone.

    As they are making money off you and Yahoo isn't, you are more likely to get a useful response.
    • by bbonnn (519410) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:38PM (#4918354)
      Actually, this is not an entirely uncommon issue with telcos ... theoretically, people can send unwanted Spam to SMS email gateways. For example, if your number is 650-555-1212 and your carrier is Cingular, you automatically have an SMS email address, which means that people can send you SMS messages from their email accounts. In Cingular's case, your SMS email address is 6505551212@XXXXXXX.XXXcingular.com. So, all a spammer has to do is send email messages to 6501111111@XXXXXXX.XXXcingular.com, 6501111112@XXXXXXX.XXXcingular.com, etc. Bingo, you get unwanted SMS on your phone

      Most carriers' response? Cancel SMS on your wireless account. Granted, you won't be able then to receive ANY SMS messages, but that's not their problem. Frustrating? Yes. Welcome to the world of wireless telco.
    • A couple years ago I called Airtouch to request exactly that - something was sending an (apparently) automated numeric page to one of the new pagers we got.

      Airtouch's policy was that they couldn't stop it and they required a court order to tell me where they were coming from.

      We ended up changing the pager's number.

    • I tried that once with Rogers-ATT after I quit my job (disagreement over an alliance with Ralsky) but forgot to remove myself from the paging system before I left. I felt pretty stupid when something broke a month later and they had no one who knew how to either fix it or change the number on the paging system.

      Roger's told me there was no possible way to block just one sender and I would have to either change my number or disable text messaging entirely.
  • Oops... (Score:5, Funny)

    by gUmbi (95629) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:17PM (#4918180)
    I didn't think of that...I feel sorry for the owners of my last 3 cellphone numbers.
  • Get them to block the originating #, or get them to change yours.
  • by HaeMaker (221642) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:17PM (#4918187) Homepage
    Because these alerts are like a mailing list subscription and the phone number is like an email address. The problem is phone numbers are reused, where email addresses, generally, are not.

    Yahoo or MSN do not receive notification when someone cancels their phone account.
    • You would *think* email addresses would not be reused, wouldn't you? But when I signed up with a new ISP and set up my email account, I found I already had quite a bit of email, and none of it intended for me. After doing a little detective work I managed to track down the new email address of the rightful recipient and forwarded her messages to her until they stopped some months later.

      The moral of the story? If you're cancelling an email account and there's any chance someone might be emailing you something you wouldn't want someone else to recieve, make sure you get them your new email address!

    • However, YAHOO and MSN do get notifications when email addresses become invalid. MSN, so far, has been good about removing them.

      YAHOO, on the other hand, has consistantly bounced attempts to notify them that they are using invalid addresses for spam when sent to their "errors to" address, and so they continue to send spam to addresses that no longer exist. In fact, they continue to send spam to addresses that never existed in the first place!

      I suspect the only way to stop it is going to involve the legal system and court-ordered cash settlements... Or, an article in the Wall Street Journal about them, just before some important SEC filing!

  • by prostoalex (308614) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:18PM (#4918189) Homepage Journal
    Have you tried this?

    Yahoo! Mobile Devices [yahoo.com], log in under your Yahoo account and select "Add a New Device", then add your phone number, or e-mail for the cell phone, depending on what your operator supports and then specifically do not choose any alerts.

    • by HelbaSluice (634789) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:31PM (#4918306)
      Not that simple. I had this same problem, and no matter what I tried, no "Yahoo Mobile Device" I created could ever grok that there was ALREADY a record in a database somewhere instructing them to SMSpam that same number on a daily basis.

      I successfully signed up for and then cancelled THE SAME MESSAGE SERVICE for my phone--and for the couple days it was active, successfully received two messages. My phone happily collapsed those into one message, with a "removing duplicates" warning.

      Whatever else is going on, Yahoo does NOT require that a "Mobile Device" have a unique phone number. Or at least, didn't at the time I was trying this.

      Fortunately, the volume of messages I was getting was nowhere near my monthly limit. I got pretty quick at ignoring them. A few months later they started getting inconsistent--skipping one or two days on occasion. Eventually they just petered out, and I haven't had one now in over a year.
  • Preferences (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vondo (303621) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:18PM (#4918190)
    Why aren't the text message preferences deleted when the cancellation notices comes thru?


    Just a guess, but probably what is registered is an e-mail address like 3215551212@sprintpcs.com which is how e-mail can find its way to SprintPCS phones. The service you sign up for may have no relation to your cell provider, so cancelling one doesn't cancel the other and then your phone number (and hence e-mail address) can be recycled.

    • Re:Preferences (Score:3, Informative)

      by Guppy06 (410832)
      "but probably what is registered is an e-mail address like 3215551212@sprintpcs.com which is how e-mail can find its way to SprintPCS phones."

      Am I the only Sprint PCS customer that doesn't have an e-mail address like this? Mine has the same user name as my standard e-mail account and the phone number is only useful if you use Sprint PCS's web form to send a text message.
      • I think I have both (but don't pay for the service, so don't get the mail).

        It may depend on how long you've been a customer. I think at some point they introduced the alphabetical names. I've been a subscriber for about 3 years, I guess.

        Try the numeric one and see if it works.
    • by raehl (609729) <raehl311&yahoo,com> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @05:18PM (#4918634) Homepage
      Does anyone have Alan Rasky's cell phone number?

      I have a couple really good deals on Viagra and Penis Enlargement to pass on.
  • by Micah (278) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:19PM (#4918205) Homepage Journal
    Ok, not about cell phone text, but about getting Yahoo to stop things...

    I have an *ancient* Geocities home page, that was set up before Yahoo acquired them. I am "yoderm" on Yahoo and was on Geocities before the acquisition. Unfortunately, the GC home page is not associated with my Yahoo account. I now have no way of logging into the thing, and really want it deleted.

    I've sent two messages through their "help" center, but no response. I've tried every support@ and help@ type e-mail I could think of for yahoo.com, geocities.com, and yahoo-inc.com. They all either bounce or get an automated reply that says "go to the help center".

    Conclusion: Yahoo goes WAY out of their way to avoid dealing with human "customers".
    • by Anonymous Coward
      An automated daily/hourly/minutely/secondly email gently reminding them to remove you seems in order. I know the time I used this technique, I was successful at getting their attention, which is all I wanted.
    • I had/have the same problem and to my knowledge there is NO WAY to get them to delete it. The only way I found was to upgrade to the new service, the free one that is and then delete my pages. This still left the broken link redirect but at least my content was gone...YAHOO blows all around.
    • I have an *ancient* Geocities home page, that was set up before Yahoo acquired them. I am "yoderm" on Yahoo and was on Geocities before the acquisition. Unfortunately, the GC home page is not associated with my Yahoo account. I now have no way of logging into the thing, and really want it deleted.

      That sucks. Not that you should have to jump through such hoops, but what if you try making the site a Terms Of Service violation? You could hammer it with wget to constantly exceed the bandwidth allocation, or maybe falsely say there's some sort of, I dunno... Nazi propaganda on there? I dunno, I don't know exactly what it takes to get a site kicked off of Geocities. Good luck. :P
    • I had exactly the same problem, only I wasn't trying to delete my page. In the end, I just bought a domain and hosted my page somewhere else. I *was* going to host my domain with Yahoo, up that point.

      There's just no way to contact Yahoo customer service.
    • by donutz (195717) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:49PM (#4918456) Homepage Journal
      I had an old geocities account that didn't get converted to my yahoo account, and after months of unsuccessful attempts to get the darn thing cancelled, I wrote a letter to the Yahoo person in charge of copyright violations, and explained that Yahoo was violating my copyright to the works posted on that old geocities account. Effectively, by limiting my ability to control the distribution of my copyrighted works, they were violating my copyrights. Not that I wanted to sue or anything, I just wanted those pages gone.

      Not long after, that account disappeared, and I was happy.

  • by csritchie (631120) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:20PM (#4918207) Homepage
    Go through your local fast food drive-thru, order a coffee and make sure you spill it on yourself as you are reading your messages. I'm pretty sure the warning labels on the coffee do not yet include: Warning! Do not drink while reading text messages.
  • by typical geek (261980) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:21PM (#4918217) Homepage
    honest honey, all the porno text ads are from the previous owner of the cell phone.
  • I've found that Yahoo's support for free services really really sucks. I can see why, but I'm starting to doubt any support even exists for these services. Good luck, though I think you are screwed.
    • If you don't like Yahoo, start YOUR OWN portal/webmail/community system.

      All you need is broadband a box running Linux. Horde [horde.org] has pretty much everything you'd need, and there's plenty of free stuff out there to make up for any shortcomings.

      I'm running Horde off my cable connection - they block port 80 but I don't care because I do everything via SSL anyway.

      And in the process you'll learn a hell of a lot about networking and Linux.

  • by kevlar (13509) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:22PM (#4918232)
    Why aren't the text message preferences deleted when the cancellation notices comes thru?

    Yahoo essentially knows nothing about the phone number. All it knows is that there is a number (or more abstractly, an email address) through which it should send its junk. They don't know who/what/where otherwise. They know nothing about who currently owns which phone #.
    • True 'dat

      Also keep in mind that most text messages are limited to an insanely small amount of characters, typ. 120-300. You think they want to waste "precious marketing space" with such frivolities as unsubscribe info?
  • by frankie (91710) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:23PM (#4918234) Journal
    ...how easy is it to dick with people you don't like by registering their cell phone number with dozens of text alert sites? If these messages don't include a way to unsubscribe, they probably aren't confirmed opt-in either.
    • by chefmonkey (140671) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:38PM (#4918358)
      They are confirmed opt-in. When you first set up a mobile device, Yahoo sends it a message containing a unique password. You are required to type this password into a web page before it starts sending you alerts. So, you'd have to physically get your hands on someone else's phone to sign them up.

      Generally works pretty well, except when the phone number changes hands.

    • I vaguely remember Yahoo sending an opt-in message to my phone with a code that had to be typed back into the website. They're not stupid, you know. :)

      A far easier method would be to up a shell script to continuously send interesting messages to $phoneno@$provider.com. I have yet to see any providers offer spam protection (but that might change if Euro-style SMS spam starts in the U.S.)

    • by dissy (172727) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @05:05PM (#4918543)
      What I did is setup a forward on my machine so page-<name>@domain forwards to my SMS address.

      I only give out the page-name address to people.

      This way i have full control via procmail on the filtering of who can and cant send to it and have it forwarded.

      Granted someone smart can realize its my phone number @whatever.carier.com (easy to find out the email gateway too) but it stops most idiots that would only know to use what i give them.

      Its also nicer as if i change phones or numbers, the address for my 'pager' never changes.

      What would be really nice is for the SMS gateway to have a setting so mail addressed TO the 'correct' adderss was denied, but mail addressed to my page-name adderss is allowed.
      Then I have 100% control over who pages me.

      Its also nice to have copys CC'd to my real email, so i do have access to full headers, and can archive them not on the phone.

      Just my $0.02
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:23PM (#4918239) Homepage
    is 'circulation' - the reason those morons are so keen on keeping people on their 'hit' list is so they can go to their paying clients and say, "Look! You're message is reaching 250,000 potential customers". The more 'circulation' or ratings a paper, magazine or program has, the more they can charge for it. Nevermind the fact that 249,997 people have just associated $PRODUCT with annoying marketing tactics.

  • Personally I would call the cellphone company where you receive service from and change your freekin phone number.

    or turn off SMS

    I mean what the hell kinda question is this, did you even bother calling that CUSTOMER SERVICE line that is on your bill??

  • I have a cellphone with Verizon (and an associated vtext account for messages.) I tried signing up for weather alerts on my cellphone but found out quickly that the messages sent were too long to be useful.

    I was able to unsubscribe from the alerts - but even after I unsubscribed from the alerts, I kept receiving advertisements from the service sent to my cellphone.

    After a couple of unsucessful attempts to get it stopped I finally poked around on the Vtext site and found out that I was able to block a specified domain from sending to my cellphone.

    Blocking the domain of the weather alerts provider killed the spam as well.

    See if your provider doesn't let you filter out @yahoo.com messages.
  • I have the same problem with my watch. It was receiving messages before i signed up for the paging service and still gets them after i've signed up and have configured it under Yahoo! Alerts. My guess is that Yahoo has a separate ID for the watch and does not know that it should be associated with the phone number that skytel gave me.
  • Some idiot signed up for a passport account and gave them a dummy e-mail address that he just made up. Unfortunately it happens to be for a mailbox that I've used for years. The MS "welcome to .NEt passport" letter doesn't even give you an option to tell them that this address was subscribed in error and to take ou off their lists. I've tried sending e-mails to addresses of real people there, but everything has been ignored. I continue to get crap from them as a result of this bogus sign-up, and can't get rid of them.
    • Some idiot signed up for a passport account and gave them a dummy e-mail address that he just made up. Unfortunately it happens to be for a mailbox that I've used for years. The MS "welcome to .NEt passport" letter doesn't even give you an option to tell them that this address was subscribed in error and to take ou off their lists. I've tried sending e-mails to addresses of real people there, but everything has been ignored. I continue to get crap from them as a result of this bogus sign-up, and can't get rid of them.

      What's the problem? The passport account is under your e-mail address, which means it's yours. Go to the Passport main site [passport.com], follow the links to get the password for that account either mailed to you or reset (Follow the Member Services link, then "I forgot my password", follow the on-screen instructions), then login, go to Member Services, and close the account (the "Close my .NET Passport account" link). Done.

  • by swb (14022) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:36PM (#4918340)
    And he's not a dumbass, either. He's found his choices are (1) put up with the messages, (2) change phone numbers, or (3) disable text messaging (carrier phenomenon). 1 and 3 are free, 2 costs money (albeit not much).

    Why (4) get Yahoo! to! stop! it! please! isn't an option boils down to "they don't listen". It's one of those scary companies where there's no apparent way to actually *contact* anyone who can do something about this. There's no there, there so to speak.

    He has said that the wireless carrier was particularly unhelpful, which doesn't surprise me. I had a problem for a while when I got my first cellular with getting FAX calls. They offered to *sell* me caller ID (an expensive option on a limited range of AMPS equipment), but wouldn't do anything about tracking down who it was.

    I'm frankly surprised that there isn't more phone spam (how hard is it to figure out that all of a carrier's cell numbers are in NXX-5xx-xxxx?) or that message services don't build in a failsafe way to stop them, like adding a user-specfic hash code to every message and then have a web page where you can go, enter that hash, and disable that phone number's messaging.
  • This doesn't neccesarily apply to this exact situation, but it is related. I use SprintPCS. The SMS address that I am given is (for instance) 1234567890@messaging.sprintpcs.com. That's also my phone number. I think to myself, "I don't neccesarily want people who might SMS me to have my phone number, and I don't neccesarily want people who have my phone number to be able to SMS me." So my solution was to use my domain name (hosted by yahoo :O)) to make an email forwarder, Jared.2600@reack.com forwards to the 1234567890@messaging.sprintpcs.com. First, it's easier to remember. Second, I control it. If I start getting spam or unwanted messages, I can forward that email address to oblivion and make a new one. Also, if I do sign up for some sort of notification service, I can create a whole new forwarding address. Yahoo happens to offer unlimited email forwards with their domain name service, so I take advantage of that. I think most other domain hosts will do the same.
  • Cancelled? (Score:2, Informative)

    by FS (10110)
    Why aren't the text message preferences deleted when the cancellation notices comes thru?

    Simple, those notification messages aren't in any way related to that phone. A user is unlikely to cancel his/her yahoo account just because they cancelled their phone service.

    It's obviously a problem, but definitely not an intentional one on Yahoo's part. An article like this on Slashdot is probably enough to get them to put up a page explaining how to get your number off someone else's account.
  • TCPA violation? (Score:2, Informative)

    by russ-smith (126998)
    If the called party is charged for the call they may have run afoul of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (47 USC 227 and the rules under 47 CFR 64.1200). If so you can sue them for up to $1,500 for each "call" just like a junk fax.
  • Thats Yahoo. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dnoyeb (547705) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:41PM (#4918378) Homepage Journal
    That is complete BS but the same thing happened to me with email.

    This is the problem.

    1. Sign up for yahoo email.
    2. Register an alternate email address of someone you don't like.
    3. sign up the alternate address for all kinds of junk.

    Their is no way they can cancel it. Yahoo will do what they always do when you email them for help, flush it down the toilet, or threaten YOU for spamming them...

  • I agree with some of the other posts here. You'll likely have to take this up with the phone service provider, NOT Yahoo!. I suppose if I just got the phone number, I'd demand a new one. I realize that this isn't always possible or ideal, but it's the sure way to get away from it all.

    I've seen similar things happen to folks who sign up with larger ISPs. Recently one signed up with RCN, got an "available" e-mail address, connected for the first time only to find 50+ spams inside from various companies.

    I think we're doomed to see this more and more as ISPs/phoneservice providers run out of name/numberspace. Recycling will happen. What can the providers do if the e-mail/phonemail address is out there already? Even if they close the number of X number of months, the spammers will still pump out ads at the address.
  • In this age of email, web forms, IM, SMS, VoiceMail, yada yada yada, we overlook the simple telephone. I had a problem with Yahoo a few years ago, and after goign round robin with the electronic options, I picked up the phone, called teir corporate offices, and didn't stop uotil I got to someone who helped me get the problem straightened out. It took 2 days to get it done that way, versus a month of web-based frustration.

    1-408-731-3300

  • ...I keep getting RH Network alerts in my e-mail inbox even though I no longer use RedHat. I've tried to unsubscribe on the RedHat site but it keeps resetting my preferences to "send e-mail to...". I've tried asking politely to have redhat support to remove my e-mail address from their list and/or kill the RHN account. I've threatened them with lawsuits under anti-spam laws (by the way, I knew this would not work if they called my bluff. I had no intention of pursuing legal action, I had only hoped that the possibility of legal action might get someone's attntion). Nothing, nada, zip. I keep getting their alerts and I can't get off the list no matter how hard I try. Why don't poeple think about these things when they design their systems?
  • Profit! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by limekiller4 (451497) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:48PM (#4918443) Homepage
    This is simple. And yes, I'm dead serious.

    1. Contact Yahoo through a reasonable contact (abuse@yahoo.com should be fine, though legal@ wouldn't hurt either), letting them know your efforts to remove your name using their controls.
    2. Inform them that you'll give them a 10-day grace period to correct this.
    3. Also inform them that you have a great new service of your own; proofreading!
    4. Also inform them that if they wish to continue sending you messages, you will be more than happy to proofread them and bill them at a rate of nnn.nn per message. Let them know that your offer is opt-in; if they wish to participate, they can simply send you another message.
    5. Let them know you bill on a net-30 basis.
    6. Find out the names and email contact points for their board of directors.
    7. Each time they opt-in by way of another message, bill them and cc their board of directors. Actually billing them is the crucial point but this can be accomplished fairly easily.
    8. Profit!

    Trust me. You won't be on that list for long. If you are, take a trip to your friendly neighborhood court and file for a small claims case. Then you're talking settlement.

    • Re:Profit! (Score:4, Informative)

      by B.D.Mills (18626) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @05:36PM (#4918857)
      It's even easier than that.

      IANAL.

      By sending unsolicited advertisements, Yahoo! are breaking the c.1991 law that says it is illegal to send unsolicited advertisements to a mobile device.

      A mobile phone is a mobile device.

      And you can make them pay up to $500 per message.
      • Re:Profit! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SirWhoopass (108232)
        I'd love to believe this, but it sounds like this is an "opt-in" service that he can't get out of. You'd probably need to send them a registered letter first, indicating that you wish to opt-out of the service. If that is ignored, then you've got some documentation that you can take to court.
  • Recently Ive been receiving a shitload of wap push messages via tmobile (USA) and they are all giberish. Tmobile just tells me TS and last month they damn near sent me over the 300.
  • Getting the old fax number of a Chinese businessman. I used to get continual faxes to my land-line at about 2-3am... try were traced to China.

    Spam is annoying in your inbox, when it makes it to your phone it is ten times the annoyance. Shouldn't they mandate a block/allow list for cellphones, since (on many plans) it's a pay-per service. i.e. with my local carrier, it's $0.10 for text message unless you subscribe to the service.
    More recently, they allowed users to be exempt from either the service subscription or the per-use payments... but it's still annoying to have so little control over your phone email - especially once spammers decide to start hitting random 1235555555@text.mycellphoneprovider.com
  • Depending on where you live, you may be able to sue to recoup airtime costs. For example, California has passed an anti-mobile-spam [cellular.co.za] law.

    Unfortunately, unless you're bored and otherwise unemployed, this is hardly worth the while.
  • I use the Yahoo text messaging for once a month reminders (give dog meds, hair cut, wife ovulating,etc..) I'm not sure you can create a yahoo account to discontinue the messages since the messages are probably created by your cell number's predecessor's Yahoo account.

    Does Yahoo even have access to this kind of information? "Yeah, can you guys look up my cell phone number among your thousands of subscribers and modify that subscribers text messenging preferences?" That sounds like a nightmare of a problem.

    I suggest changing your Cell Phone number. That's your easiest solution.
  • by Mitchell Mebane (594797) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @05:47PM (#4918954) Homepage Journal
    /me pulls up his super-secret list of contact numbers

    Ah, here we go. Give Yahoo a call at 1-408-349-3300. Took me a while to find that number, but it actually works.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @05:47PM (#4918958)
    I used to get a lot of important e-mail from the folks at Microsoft telling me about their wonderful products. After making several unsuccessful attempts to get off their mailing list, I finally changed my profile and set my e-mail address to postmaster@microsoft.com. Worked like a charm.

    ---insert signature line here---
  • simple solution (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kunta Kinte (323399) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @06:07PM (#4919104) Journal
    disable SMS for a short while.

    Most mailing list unsubscribe you if your messages bounce for some limit.

    Inconveniet yes, but it should work.
  • What to do (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eric Smith (4379) <eric@broCOWuhaha.com minus herbivore> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @06:36PM (#4919262) Homepage Journal
    Any suggestions for what I should do next to try and get Yahoo! to stop sending these unwanted messages?
    Sue them in small claims court for a few hundred dollars. They'll probably settle and pay you off, but if they keep sending you the unwanted messages, you can just keep suing them and collecting money from them.

    IANAL, so I don't really know how well this will work.

  • alan.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by deego (587575) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @07:02PM (#4919410)
    heh

    i wonder if some enterprising /.er has done Alan Ralsky a favor by subscribing him to this useful information.
  • I've done this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Andy Muldowney (12670) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @12:22AM (#4920994)
    A bank (Nation's Bank I think) called my cell phone one time. They claimed they "must have been given a wrong number" but the lady knew my name, so I wasn't buying it. I have no accounts with them, nor have I ever given out my cell to any companies. So I asked to speak with her manager. I happily told them that it was illegal to solicit to cell phones. They tried to feed me some more BS, so I asked for her manager. I finally got to someone decently high up, and they must have just been too busy to care, because they just said "send us a bill."

    So, I itemized the lost minutes, as well as about an hour's worth of lost wages (this was during work) and sent it off. Sure enough, about two weeks later I got a check in the mail.

    Needless to say, I didn't cash it...it makes a good story. Plus, my coworkers thought I was crazy when I was on the phone.

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