We’ve all seen the Emergency Broadcast System messages. “This is only a test. This is not an actual alert.” It helps to know that.
On Monday, a series of text messages in the central New Jersey area went to Verizon cell phones declaring a civil emergency and warning people to take cover.
According to mycentraljersey.com, after receiving numerous calls from residents, State Police released a statement saying they were looking into where the message came from, and that no emergency existed. Monmouth County’s 911call center accepted 172 calls between noon and 1 p.m., more than twice the amount of the previous week during the same time period.
Mail Online reported that the text message warned of a 'civil emergency' and an 'extreme threat to life,' and urged people to 'seek shelter until 1.24 p.m.' The message went out at 12.26pm to Android cell phone users in Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris and Ocean Counties.
NJ.com reported that “CMAS Alert” showed up on screens in bold red letters, which is the Commercial Mobile Alert System for public safety, involving FEMA, the Federal Communications Commission and subscribed wireless carriers.
According to the Associated Press, Verizon apologized in an e-mail for any inconvenience or concern caused by their message. Verizon failed to comment on why the message was not marked as a test before being sent or whether such an incident had ever occurred before.