Over the last couple of months I’ve received a healthy crop of texts from companies that seem to think I’ve had a car accident (‘claim £3,750 for your injury’) or been mis-sold payment protection insurance. Funnily enough, I’ve not injured myself in a car accident or bought a PPI policy. But neither am I able to stop the texts.
How to stop spam texts and unwanted SMS messages
According to the Information Commissioner’s Office, which deals with data protection issues, 95% of people who receive spam texts find them inconvenient, distressing or concerning. It’s carried out one raid on a company suspected of sending spam texts and plans to carry out more.
SAVVY TIP: If found guilty, companies could be fined up to half a million pounds.
So how do these companies get hold of your information?
- Many spam texts aren’t targeted. The companies sending them out have no idea whether or not you’ve had an accident/bought PPI etc. Often they text random numbers using mobile number generating software.
- Companies may be lead generators. The spam texters may try and generate sales for other companies or it could simply be a scam that means you pay an upfront fee.
- Don’t respond. Legitimate companies that you’ve had contact with in the past (either because you’ve bought something or because you’re on their mailing list) have to let you know that you can stop texts by sending a message with the word STOP (in capitals). Spam texters also tell you to text ‘STOP’ if you don’t want to receive any more texts, but in this case, it just lets the spammers know that the number they’ve texted is ‘live’. Texting ‘STOP’ only means you’re likely to open the floodgates to more texts…
SAVVY TIP: This means that if you get a text from a company you don’t recognise, or one that doesn’t have a name, don’t reply to it. I texted ‘STOP’ after I received my first spam text and I’ve received quite a few more since.
- Report it. You can report the spam texts to your mobile provider, although, because the spammers’ numbers change all the time it’s a bit of a game of cat and mouse.
SAVVY TIP: You may be able to complain to the ICO about unwanted texts. There’s a reporting form on their website.
You can register your mobile number with the Telephone Preference Service so that you don’t receive unsolicited marketing calls but it won’t work for texts. If you’re receiving texts from a company you know, the only option is to text the word STOP (or sometimes STOP ALL).
SAVVY TIP: If this doesn’t work, you should contact the Information Commissioner by phoning its helpline on 0303 123 1113. There are details on their report a concern page.
Premium rate texts
If you’re sent texts that you’ve not asked for and which you’re charged to receive, you should complain to the Phone-paid Services Authority. It regulates premium rate phone and SMS services.
The ICO has produced a guide to spam texts.
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