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Your surest defense is to avoid replying to any mobile spam and to hold off on typing in your cellphone number on websites you don’t fully trust.

That won’t guarantee you immunity, since legitimate sites can be hacked for customers’ personal information, but it’s your best bet. They go like this: 1) Report spam to your carrier by forwarding the offending message to 7726 (that's SPAM on alphanumeric keypads), then copy the phone number it came from and send that along as well. 3) Tell your wireless carrier to block messages from the Internet.

The cost of fielding complaints from exasperated customers outweighs any revenue the wireless companies get from spam messages, Cloudmark’s Reading reckons.

Several wireless providers are in the process of deploying it.

If he’s right, perhaps mobile spam will be held down to the level of a minor annoyance for most.

To really put a dent in text spam, the mobile phone companies need to upgrade their spam filters. A cynic might note that the wireless providers have little incentive to expend that effort, since it costs them essentially nothing to transmit the data, and they actually profit from spam messages received by people who don’t have unlimited texting plans.

Spokespeople for Verizon and AT&T insisted to me that they’re doing all they can, and noted that the volume of mobile spam remains tiny compared to email spam.

Two years ago, I got a text message from a number with a Las Vegas area code. Spammers’ lists of numbers have been multiplying as they shift their focus from email to mobile phones to take advantage of cellphone companies’ weaker spam filters.

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“Now, I’d say most people have been exposed to it themselves.” If you haven’t, you will be soon.

Verizon, for its part, has managed to track down and sue some 20 spammers over the years.

Cloudmark, the message-security company, says domestic wireless providers may not have always made mobile spam their top priority, but they are making a genuine effort to respond now that unwanted messages are spiking stateside.

The past three years, however, have brought a proliferation of cheap, prepaid cellphone plans with unlimited text messaging. In 2009, Americans received some 2.2 billion text messages that they identified as spam, by the estimate of Richi Jennings, an independent market analyst. But even that figure doesn’t capture the biggest boom, which has come in just the past few months, according to Cloudmark, a San Francisco-based firm that provides messaging security for major wireless carriers.

But that method was easily stymied, because wireless companies can separately track and filter such messages.

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