A text message warning of a civil emergency and advising recipients to take shelter was sent by Verizon in error Monday, a spokesman for the company said.
“Around noon this afternoon a test emergency notification text message was sent to customers in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean Counties in New Jersey,” according to a statement issued by Verizon.
“This test message was not clearly identified as a test. We apologize for any inconvenience or concern this message may have caused,” according to the statement.
David Sanberg, a spokesman for Verizon, said he did not have any information about the number of customers who actually received the message within the three-county area.
Calls flooded into the Monmouth County 911 center after a series of texts hit Verizon cell phones stating there was a civil emergency and advising people to take cover.
The texts arrived on the phones of Verizon customers who use Android system phones and appeared to have been concentrated in the Central New Jersey region, Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden said.
Police departments across the area were fielding calls from residents asking what type of emergency. The text message forced State Police to send a statement saying they were investigating the origin of the message and say there is no emergency. About two hours later, Verizon released the statement saying the text was sent by the utility in error.
The Monmouth County 911 call center field 172 calls, mostly about the text message, between noon and 1 p.m., according to Golden. Last week there were 80 calls to the 911 center during the same period, he added.