Spam text messages are a modern nuisance, plaguing our mobile phones with unnecessary adverts, often from businesses which don’t appear legitimate. However, it is possible for us to tackle the issue of spam texts by reporting them in order to minimise the number we receive.
Here is a short guide explaining how to identify various types of unsolicited text messages and how to deal with the issues they cause.
Identifying Texts as SPAM
Spam messages are usually delivered to randomly generated numbers and advertise services such as PPI claim handlers, debt write-off firms or accident ‘ambulance chasers’. More often than not the sender will appear as an 11 digit mobile phone number without identifying the actual company involved in the advert.
If messages are in fact from a legitimate marketer they should include the name and contact details of the sender. In addition, you should have given consent for such messages to be delivered to your phone, perhaps when signing up for something with the company in the past. Firms which are following SMS marketing regulations will identify themselves within the body of the text of the message or in the sent-from number.
If you receive a SPAM text message… DO NOT REPLY
Once you recognise a text as spam message that you’ve never asked for nor want, it is crucial you never reply to them. Though the message is likely to be generic, and sent via methods which evade detection, such as multiple pay-as-you-go SIM cards active for a week at a time, the ultimate aim of the message is to obtain genuine personal details. Therefore it is vital that you never send a reply to spam, not even to text ’STOP’. Responding, even with the word ‘stop’, confirms that the number they have messaged is active and belongs to a real person. Upon this, any confirmed numbers are likely to be sold on to accident and injury claim specialists and PPI reclaiming firms, who will spam you further with more unsolicited texts and even phone calls. For this reason it is imperative that you don’t engage with the message at all, which includes clicking any links included within the text.
3 Steps to tackle Spam Messages
#1 Text 7726
The first option you have upon receiving a spam text is to report it to your network provider. This can be done through the simple, free method of forwarding the message to 7726 (spells SPAM). Alongside the spam message, it is also important to include the senders’ number, in order to inform the network providers of who is causing the issue.
#2 Report it to ICO
Spam recipients can also choose to report such messages to the Information Comissioner’s Office, which holds the power to fine firms up to £500,000 for serious breaches of the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR). This method can yield great results, with a pay day loans company being fined £175,000 in 2013 after being found to be sending millions of unlawful spam text messages.
The ICO is able to look at texts sent within the UK or on behalf of a UK company. Sadly, many messages are sent by companies outside the UK or via anonymous pay-as-you-go SIM cards, meaning they are difficult to prevent or punish and thus stop.
Complaints about a spam text message to the ICO can be delivered online in the form of a survey on their website, or by calling 0303 123 1113.
#3 Block the number
The most direct method of ensuring that you don’t receive any more spam messages from a particular number is to block it, thus preventing any further calls or texts from it coming through to your mobile phone.
Unfortunately, a growing number of these companies use multiple SIM cards to send spam, therefore blocking one doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t hear from them in future.