Text messages surprise with deals, discounts

Unexpected text messages are appearing on mobile devices across the country, advertising deals and discounts at stores sometimes just feet away from message recipients.

When in range of a retailer or other advertiser, any Bluetooth-equipped device can receive an initial message that notifies a user that a discount or deal is available via iSign Media, a marketing technology company.

The messages are free and sent using Bluetooth signals when mobile users are within range of an antenna that picks up those signals. When a mobile user ignores, rejects, accepts or redeems a deal, that piece of data is recorded, and now possibly sold as market research data.

"We don't need a name, we don't need a phone number, we don't need an email address. We simply talk to your device which is not connected to your particular private information," iSign Media's CEO, Alex Romanov, said on "Big Data Download."

By connecting directly to phones and other mobile devices, iSign bypasses cellphone carriers as well, according to the company.

--By Althea Chang

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