What’s the Most Serious Crime Problem Facing the Nation? Wrong!

March 16, 2010

By Terry Smiljanich:

Given the fact that the economic crisis of 2008 is costing this country trillions of dollars.  And given that it was brought on in part by the criminal conduct of some financial institutions, not to mention all those who helped them, it stands to reason that federal prosecutions from October, 2008 to September 2009 (Fiscal Year 2008) would reflect that.  Right?

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Get Ready: Spam’s Going Mobile

January 6, 2009

By Jim Ross: After years of shoveling junk mail peddling everything from sex toys to get-rich-quick schemes out of my inbox, spam has migrated onto my cell phone. Burying my inbox is bad enough.  But at least the junk can be trashed without opening and can be kept in check by a blocking filter. Cell phone spam’s another story. You can’t install a spam filter. You often can’t delete the junk without opening. And, you end up paying for it all. Spam – what the wireless carriers describe as “unsolicited” messaging sent indiscriminately to your cell phone – is exploding as those spreading political and social agendas and products and services vie for attention.

Mobile Spam a New Frontier

Cell phones are a new frontier for advertisers, spammers, identity thieves and computer viruses aided by unsophisticated internet browsers and filtering systems and consumers who focus on features, not security. Whether by text or picture, abuse is growing as new technology shrinks costs and enables delivery to handsets carried in pockets and purses. Already:

  • Between 18 percent and 25 percent of all American cell phone users have received spam;
  • 200 known viruses have targeted one popular cell phone operating system;
  • Identity thieves are using cell phone text messages to trick the unwary into providing personal or financial information or downloading viruses that steal it.
  • Bluetooth wireless technology and pictures and video are being used to spread viruses.

The attraction’s simple enough: hundreds of millions of Americans carry cell phones everywhere and pay attention when they ring or flash a text message.  We trust our cell phones.

Advertising Boon

For commercial advertisers, that trust translates into a cheap way to tap a lucrative market. Particularly when the primary users are teenagers and young adults – what the advertising industry calls the target demographic that spends less time reading and watching television.

And use of cell phones as mobile computing devices is growing. By 2007, 80 percent of the world’s population had access to mobile phone coverage with about 3.3 billion mobile phone subscribers – the equivalent of half the planet’s population – including 226 million Americans. Americans alone sent 5,000 text messages per second, 43 million a day every day, in 2007.  And, about 40 million users received text-message ads.

By 2010, spending on mobile ads and mobile banking is expected to reach $10 billion, in part, because cell phones are viewed as trusted and secure devices. The ad barrage is already weazling in to the dike of privacy.

Kraft sends e-mail dinner suggestions to mobile users. Kroger, a grocery store chain, is testing a mobile coupon for shoppers to use.  Guinness boosted beer sales by 24 percent in the last month of a mobile advertising campaign. In-store traffic increased 21 percent when Dunkin’ Donuts sent a coupon to cell phones of high school and college students.

More importantly, perhaps, 17 percent forwarded the coupon to friends. In Great Britain, mobile media is attracting a “highly desirable audience” that is cash rich, and time poor with a third of users reporting they are tempted to buy advertised products, according to the M:Metrics, a firm that tracks mobile marketing. Now, advertisers are looking at ways to use the mobile web to access the audience, according to a 2008 company survey.

So who are the biggest consumers of the mobile web? Americans. And, the ads are already flowing, brought to you by your cell phone carrier.

Last week, Verizon Wireless announced that it will allow banner advertisements on news, weather, sports and Internet sites early this year. Sprint began allowing banner ads in October. Welcome to the the future of advertising — whether you like it or not.

**Check back on Thursday for Part 2 in this series on internet spam:   How Can You Block Junk Cell Phone Messages?