An article on reports on the increasing problem of annoying spam messages being received over the Cell Broadcast channels which are meant to be used for alerting the public.

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There is an increasing amount of "cell broadcast" spam happening. Unlike standard text messages (SMS), cell broadcast messages are like announcements from a big PA speaker: it sends to everyone nearby, but there's no manner of knowing who it's from nor do you have a reply address. Instead, messages will appear to be from some name, rather than a number.

One in particular that has been going around is about getting an iPhone 6S for $1. The home page has no content, but if you follow the specific link that was sent, you'll be brought to a teeth whitening page where you sign up for $1.99, but if you don't cancel within three days, they apparently charge you $120 per month, and charge in-advance (who knows how many months in advance). It's hosted by a place in Massachusetts where the only contact information is for sending subpoenas (and they list their charges for being served with subpoenas), so it's a pretty shady hosting service, seemingly for shady content.

I've received other types of messages, as well, and they're all scams.

I contacted Rogers (my cellular provider) asking if they take reports on these messages, in the same way that most ISPs have a department for investigating e-mail (and SMS) spam. The agent that I spoke with was trying to give me advice on blocking the sender or replying "STOP", evidently not understanding that you can't reply to cell broadcast messages. He simply directed me to the Rogers "share a concern" page, which I did fill out.

The next day, I received a call back from Rogers (I can't remember if it was a manager or supervisor). He was starting to address it in a similar manner. After I explained that I wasn't interested in how to not receive the messages, but rather asking if they take reports for them, he told me that they don't. I explained why I was concerned, namely that due to the lack of sender information and being a broadcasted message, it may seem to some like a Rogers-endorsed message, since many likely haven't seen a cell broadcast message before, and subsequently may lower their guard and become victims. The representative said something along the lines of "Well, I hope that people are smart enough not to fall for that.". I was pretty disappointed with that specific response, because anyone who has dealt with telecommunications in any manner knows that people fall for much more obvious scams than that all the time, and that's what you end up seeing on the news or in newspapers. I understand that tracking these kinds of messages down may be difficult, but hoping that nobody falls for it is ignorant and somewhat irresponsible; just leave it at "there is no manner to investigate these messages".

As these new scams start to pop up, I feel like we have some kind of duty to make sure that our less-techie friends are aware of them. I always feel wretched when I see an elderly person trying to scrape by with little cash who was scammed out of thousands of dolllars.

If you're afraid of someone receiving these messages and you'd like to turn them off, it can vary from device to device. On Android Lollipop, it can be turned off from going into the SMS app, going to settings, and then looking for "cell broadcast" or "CB" and turning it off.

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