Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bear with me, this is long.

Did you know a "telemarketer" can send you pornographic photos on your cell phone without your permission? Guess how I know.

While sitting in my quilting group meeting this morning, I heard the tone that alerted me of a text message. Since my daughter is about the only person who does that, I flipped my phone open--to see an obscene picture on my screen. Shocked, I immediately erased it, but had difficulty keeping my mind on the meeting after that. (No, not because of the image!) I didn't recognize the number, nor could I think of anyone who would dare to send me that, but how did they get, or choose, my number? I only give my cell number out to family and close friends, my vet, and my doctor. My work doesn't even know I own a cell phone.

Within 2 hours, I had received two more photos. I was livid. Since the subject line had Fw: Fw: Fw: on it, and had no messages with my name on it, I assumed the person was just sending these out to random numbers. If he/she was sending it to an acquaintance, there would most likely have been a follow-up text or call to see if I'd received the photos. Wrong number? Who dials a wrong number 3 times in a row?

I called my carrier, Verizon, but the only suggestions they had were to block the number (for $5.00/month) or change my number.
Why should I pay to NOT have porn sent to my phone? I'm already being charged each time it's sent to me. And why should I go through all the trouble of changing my number? If it's being randomly chosen by the sender, what's to prevent this from happening again?

Verizon was no help.

I called the Sheriff's department, as I am in the county, and they sent a deputy out. Two of them, actually. In 2 different cars. The female deputy never said a word, never made eye contact, and everytime I looked at her, she looked away. The male deputy was professional and polite, but between them both, I felt like an idiot.

He asked me if I'd called the number back. No, I was treating it like spam--don't reply and they don't know it's a valid number. Had I tried asking Verizon to block the call? They can't do that. I told him I felt it was a random dialing, but had happened 3 times and I wanted to press charges if possible. He told me it was not against the law to send me porn photos on my phone, but he would call this number and give the person a warning. I told him if they could get my number, what was keeping them from sending these pictures to children?

About 10 minutes after they left, the deputy called me back. Seems it's a telemarketing ploy--they wanted to set him up with explicit chat lines. I asked if that was before or after they found out who he was. He wasn't amused. He again recommended I call Verizon to have them block the call.

So I went to a reverse phone lookup site, found out the city and the carrier. Guess who? Verizon. When I phoned them to notify them one of their customers is sending out pornographic photos to random numbers, and asked that his/her number be blocked from doing this, they stated they couldn't do that without the owner's permission. What idiot is going to consent to that??? Just cancel the account! Nope, not possible. They suggested the same 2 options. I suggested they are irresponsible.

Frustrated, I dialed the FCC, but their recorded message recommends using their internet addy to contact them. I went online, relisted my cell with the Do Not Call Registry, printed the form for reporting unwanted telemarketer calls, and will be mailing it in.

I also sent emails to two local television stations, suggesting this might be something they would want to further investigate and report to the public, but haven't heard anything back yet.

Tonight, I received another message. I texted the number back, informing the party I was reporting them to the FCC, and had already reported them to Verizon and the Sheriff's Department. He/She made a big joke about it, used profanity, and stated they would contact me "tomarrow". I texted back DO NOT CONTACT ME AGAIN.

J-Man suggested I contact our congressman, and I'm thinking of doing that. I can't believe this is permissible by law. How do these people get their numbers? What is to prevent these porno-marketers from sending their obscene and explicit photos to teenagers, or younger children? This number is registered--it's not a disposable cell phone. Why can't something be done about it?

Has anyone been the subject of unsolicited porn via your cell phone? What did you do?


HarryJack's Mom said...

Holy Cow! Good for you for persisting - keep us posted on how it goes. Yikes, some people!

Jean said...

I haven't had this happen to me. I think it is interesting that no one can do anything about it. I think they probably do send to children, how would they know the difference? When telemarketers call land lines, it is just a computer dialing numbers in order. Not sure if that is the same with cell phones or not.
I'm with HJMom...keep us posted. I hope you get the news stations interested. They are pretty good at getting to the bottom of things.

MightyMom said...

porn via cell phone....takes phone sex to a whole new level.

sorry but I really need a laugh tonight. tis nutzo here at work...didn't you say that fullmoon was LAST WEEK??

on another note.

sounds great! you take Sonshine and Jesus to the zoo...just remmeber to take detailed notes of everything the animals talk about and good luck getting a word in edgewise with Sonshine! Think this zoo trip could last about 4 days? wanna take a couple other tagalongs with you? Surely Jesus will help you keep them inline.....right??.......hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahaha.

Catherine said...

What a nightmare! And Verizon needs to stop subscribers from sending crap like that out! How do they know whether a child is getting that on his or her phone? Whatever happened to corporate responsibility?

audreypawdrey said...

I can not believe that this is not against the law. It is so crazy that children could easily be on the receiving end and these huge companies act like it doesn't matter! Keep us updated. I think contacting your congressman is an excellent idea-maybe their needs to be a law against this so it is illegal.

calamity kim said...

wow! That is terrible! I hope that you stop getting the calls! That seems to be harassment! Good luck with that!

Mandy said...

This is craziness. I am so glad your persisted. You are so right, that there are probably kids everywhere getting these as well. I hope they do something about it. Don't you wish we could send all the idiots in the world to one big island so they could annoy eachother and leave us self-respecting people alone..

Pat said...

Takes courage to fight back against unwanted *things*.

Congratulations on helping our world to be a better place and get the porn off of the cell phones!

I don't have the texting option on my cell but my son (17) does! I'll have to ask him about it tonight! Thanks for the heads up!

Libby said...

I haven't had any photographs, but I did receive a rather disgusting text the other day. It arrived just as I was settling in for my haircut - so I just deleted it and pressed on. Until I read your post, I didn't really think that perhaps it was part of a larger scheme/scam. I'm sure my cell company would be of no help either. Keep us posted on what happens.

Marla said...

You have opened up my eyes today! I had never thought about this possibility. Oh my goodness... this could end up being worse than internet porn because look at all the kids who have cell phones now. If there is anything we can do to support you in this, such as signing petitions etc. please let us know!!--Marla

jacquie said...

i had a random text and i opened set up a 5.00 a month charge to them...att removed it and refunded my money, but i didn't figure it out for 4 months. how many others are they scamming? porn by phone...yikes!

gardenymph said...

Oh this is terrible! You are awesome to take a stand and fight. This is something that could effect us all.

Lori in South Dakota said...

Persist!! Call your congressman and anyone else you can think of. Worse than spam you get filtered on the internet!

Pinky said...

Nope, never got porn on my cell phone. that's horrible! I have gotten several calls from telemarketers, as well as texts. I just don't answer calls from numbers I don't know anymore. VERY irritating!

Katie said...

Wow. Hasn't happened so far but I'm not counting on the fact it won't. Good luck! Keep us posted.

MouseChirpy said...

Stephanie, sorry that this is happening to you but glad that you've blogged about it so that we all can be aware of what is going on. That is total bull that Verizon says that they cannot do something about it. Yes they can. How about booting those porno-spammers from using their service?? Sounds reasonable to me. I hope that you've been able to resolve this by now.