Cell phone spam destroyed Virginia Doetsch's fun of texting her kids.
"The spam text messaging became so invasive. I really can't repeat the words. Just things that were inappropriate for me to see, for my children to see, for anybody to see, really," said Virginia.
This year alone, Americans will receive an estimated 1.5 billion unwanted cell phone spam messages. That's twice as much as in 2006.
"People don't realize they could unknowingly be inviting spam when they download ringtones, games, and other stuff from vendors they don't know or trust," said Mike Gikas from Consumer Reports.
Cell phone users are protected from spam by the CAN-SPAM Act, which prohibits sending commercial messages to cell phones without "express prior authorization."
"Unfortunately, the law has a lot of loopholes. For example, when you sign up for service, even from your own vendor, you're also giving them permission to send you messages, as well as their partners," said Gikas.
Without better protection, what can you do to minimize cell phone spam and the potential cost? Consumer Reports says you should call your carrier right away. You're more likely to have charges for messages waived before they pile up. Also, you can block spam at the source.
"You can go to your cell account online, access preferences for text messaging and e-mail, and block text messages from Internet-based accounts," explains Gikas. "Of course, you can still get the text messages you want from family and friends when they use their cell phones."
As for Virginia, she got so frustrated she cut off her text messaging service.
"I'm hoping that by turning it off, once I turn it back on, hopefully those people who are text messaging me will forget my number and move on to somebody else," said Virginia.
But you don't have to be that somebody else.