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Customer Service General Marketing Opinion

Text spamming, scamming, slamming proliferate

Leading the over-communication charge is texting. Between spamming, scamming, and now slamming us with unwanted texts, email and robocalls now have some serious competition.

Maybe I’ve been late to the party, as I’ve only started getting bombarded the last few weeks. For whatever reason, however, the intrusion has been substantially thwarted by a text blocking program on my T-Mobile phone. I see a notification about the text being blocked, but I don’t hear anything or have to delete anything in most cases. Where I do, I block and report it as spam, hopefully preventing a repeat performance.

The sudden proliferation makes me think that spammers, scammers and slammers are upping their game. Not content to disrupt our lives using other communications channels, they’re now making a concerted effort in the texting world as well.

For would-be marketers seeing “cold texting” as a next big thing, let me offer a decidedly personal perspective: If I see your pitch on my cell phone, not only will I not likely respond or buy anything, I will put you on my list of undesirables. I do this with products and services that demonstrate poor customer service. And, unwanted texts certainly qualify.

Besides the annoyance is the tangible harm that can come to susceptible recipients. A recent NBC report frames the discussion: “Unwanted texts have existed for practically as long as the text message itself. But with more people using their smartphones to make payments and as many sites for banks and utilities verify users’ accounts through text messages, the fraud floodgates have opened…The numbers are staggering. The Federal Trade Commission got 334,833 complaints about scam texts last year, more than double the year before…Jacinta Tobin, a vice president at Proofpoint, a cybersecurity company that specializes in threats to mobile phones, said scammers and criminal hackers noticed that more marketers and businesses interact with people through text messages and simply followed that trend.”

What can you do to minimize, or even eliminate, unwanted and overwhelming communications from the Big 3—phone, email, text?

Check out options to block or redirect all of them.

Some of these are technology fixes. Some are common sense. For example, if you don’t recognize an incoming caller ID, don’t answer the phone. Many of the robocallers don’t leave messages, and the ones that do can be quickly deleted. If it’s someone you really may want to talk to, odds are good they will leave a message.

Signing up for “Do not call” lists can help somewhat. I currently have the voicemail on my landline set up to screen incoming calls and warn that I’m on a do-not-call list. This works much of the time, but as with anything else, it’s not perfect.

For emails, you can increase the amount of perceived junk that filters into a spam or junk folder. However, this famously also can catch legitimate emails. I keep my Outlook protection levels set to filter out obvious stuff. For the rest of the junk, I hit “block sender” to auto-send to the junk mail folder in the future. Sometimes this works the first time; sometimes it takes repeat blocks; other times, it just doesn’t work. But, overall it’s better than nothing.

See if your cell provider or the phone itself offers text blocking/diverting options, and start using them.

Review periodically new technologies to rev up your protection.

Of course, this too, can come with complications. Particularly with newer, not fully tested/debugged technologies, you can wind up feeling like you just tried to eat an elephant. Figuring out how to use it, and if it can potentially create other problems always requires due diligence.

Stop using all of it, and start communicating via smoke signals.

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One end of the pendulum to the other: From not communicating enough with customers to deluging them with confirmations, reminders, requests, survey questions, and directives via automated platforms and conversations. Clear, consistent communication is one thing. This is getting very noisy and annoying. While most customers can control the level of information provided to some degree (e.g., opting in/out of text and email messages and the like), there also is a proliferation of “surveying” during phone conversations that can get positively ridiculous.

Mark Lusky

One reply on “Text spamming, scamming, slamming proliferate”

I’d send a smoke signal indicating agreement, but there is a municipal ordinance prohibiting fires, and I don’t have a fireplace. 😉

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