Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Text Messaging Scam: Blind Cell Phone Users Beware!

If you are a cell phone user, and are blind or visually impaired enough that you can't read your cell phone's screen, you may want to contact your service provider and have text messaging turned off. If you have an accessible cell phone, watch out for messages from 42222. This warning from a fellow APH employee explains it all, her message follows.

I use my cell phone very little and usually keep it turned off. I never use text messaging.

I received a text message from 42222 which I opened, thinking it might be one of those general welcome to our service messages from Verizon or something like that. The message said something like welcome to saurus...and I think it mentioned Verizon. I wasn't interested and did not read further, still thinking this was perhaps one of those welcome to our new service messages. I kept getting messages from 4222 and did not open them.

I was billed 10 cents for each text message and 9.99 for a download on my cell phone bill.

I have never downloaded ringtones or anything else.

The Verizon customer services rep said this was "Blinko" and she agreed to remove the charges for the text messages but not the download. The 9.99 download was the charge just for OPENING AND READING the initial message. Thankfully, I had not opened all 9 messages.

She had me text message the word quit to them and then put a block on text messages so I can no longer receive or send them.

I did a quick google on 4222 on text message fraud and found this was a number used by some other fraudulent services that seem to be part of a class action suit, and references Jamster and bighippo. I only found one reference to Blinko, which is what Verizon said was the fraudster in this case. I am not sure if there is a relation to Jamster and Blinko. They seem to be based in Italy, per this article.

Probably all of you reading this have been heavy cell phone users for a long time and would never be taken in by opening a message from someone you did not know, but I thought I would spread the word, just in case. Also, I had not known one could just block text messaging. We had to ask if there was something to do to stop messages like this, and she said they could block them.

Some of the stories I read about the jamster fraud suggest that blocking the service and emailing them "quit" may not be the end of the story, and I won't know I suppose until I have received a few more bills from Verizon and confirmed that this is really settled.

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