What are Cell Phone Alerts?

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  • Written By: Darlene Goodman
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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Cell phone alerts, also called Short Message Service (SMS) alerts, utilize text messaging technology to alert individuals to a variety of time-sensitive information. The types of alerts available vary depending on the program, but most of them involve emergency notifications, such as severe weather alerts. Typically, individuals opt-in to an alert program before receiving any such notices.

An alert program provider may advertise free cell phone alerts, but a buyer should be aware that this may not apply to his or her cell phone payment plan. Most cell phone service providers charge the same fee for receiving cell phone alerts as for any text message. In other words, it may not matter who sends the message, the charges may still apply. The individual opting-in to a particular alert program should be aware of how much his or her cell phone plan charges for text messages or SMS.

For the most part, cell phone alerts are generally used to relay emergency information to subscribers. Common examples of these alerts include severe weather notices, breaking news messages, and school or business closings. Cell phone alert providers can include governments, schools, news organizations, or email systems.

Many local, national, or international news organizations offer cell phone alert programs. Generally, these programs allow individuals to choose what types of alerts they wish to receive. The main alert categories of often include news, weather, sports, and stock or financial reports. Local news organizations typically emphasize community or regional information.


One of the most common types of cell phone alerts offers information on severe weather events. Many people who live in areas that frequently face blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, or strong thunderstorms may subscribe to one of these alert programs. Weather messages may give individuals warnings of potentially dangerous situations or those that may impede their daily schedules.

Many people may be able to forward email accounts, which receive these urgent messages, to their mobile phones as cell phone alerts. This is typically accomplished through the use of email filters. For example, if an individual wishes to receive email from an employer as an alert, he or she can set up an email filter that will automatically forward any emails that come from the employer to his or her cell phone as a text message.

The Amber Alert program in the United States utilizes cell phone alerts to disseminate information about recent child kidnappings. If a child is abducted, local law enforcement officials may broadcast critical information about the child and his or her abductor through this type of system. Individuals must choose to receive Amber Alerts on their cell phones.


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