FTC cracks down on spam text messages

Commission officials said that providing an email address would result in a deluge of spam emails, and people would have to pay to subscribe to services to try to get the "free" prizes. Agency officials said it was unclear whether anyone was able to redeem a prize.

About 12 percent of cellphone users do not have unlimited texting or regularly go over their monthly limits, meaning just receiving spam text messages costs some consumers money. 

The FTC is seeking restraining orders against the 29 defendants to prevent them from sending more spam messages and is asking the courts to freeze the defendants' assets. The FTC is seeking a refund of the money, but commission officials admit that it will be difficult to track down the victims.

The FTC does not have criminal authority, and none of the defendants are currently facing jail time over the charges.

"The FTC is committed to rooting out this deception and stopping it. For consumers who find spam texts on their phones, delete them, immediately. The offers are, in a word, garbage," Charles Harwood, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement.

The commission urged people not to respond to or click on links in spam text messages. Even replying with "stop" can often result in more spam messages, the commission said.

Consumers can forward messages to 7726 to alert their carriers of possible spam.