As if nuisance phone calls, recorded messages and spam email weren't enough of a problem, these days many of us are subjected to spam texts arriving on our mobile phones with alarming regularity. If you're fed up with endless texts about PPI, debt relief, loans or no-win-no-fee accident claims, here's how to put a stop to the spam.
What's spam and what's not?
Most of us will have missed that tiny box that needs to be ticked, or in some cases unticked, to prevent companies from sending marketing messages or passing your details to third parties at some point. If your message includes the name of the company within the body of the text, it's more than likely something you've inadvertently given consent for. Similarly, if you're getting messages from a four, five or six-digit number, it could be a service that you've signed up for, whether accidentally or not, and often they're charging you for simply receiving the text. A true spam text, on the other hand, will often appear to come from a mobile number, and typically they won't include a company name, while the message will be generic and not targeted to you personally. You may well find you receive the same or similar messages from a different number each time, and this is because spammers commonly use multiple pay-as-you-go SIM cards to help avoid detection.
Though identifying the legitimate from the spam can be tricky, if the company name does not appear, either in the sender information or within the body of the text, don't reply - this is often how the spammers confirm the number, and then sell it on to other firms, and then you'll find yourself swamped with more texts and calls. The same goes for clicking on any Internet links within the text. Even taking them up on their 'text STOP to be removed' offer can result in more unwanted calls or texts, so leave well alone.
While it's unlikely to prove a quick fix, and it may not even stop them altogether, the more people report spam texts, the better the chance of stopping the repeat offenders. You can either report it to your network provider by forwarding the message in its entirety to 7726, ensuring that the sender's number is included. Alternatively, you can report it to the Information Commissioner either via the website or by calling 0303 123 1113. You will need to provide as much detail as possible, and it's a good idea to look at the ICO's recent investigations online, since often they will already be looking into your particular spammer. The ICO has the power to fine firms based in the UK, and even some of those operating abroad, so it is always worth complaining. Spammers rely on our complacency to allow them to continue operating.
As with most things, prevention is better than cure when it comes to spam texts. The best way to stop them coming in the first place is to take extra care with your mobile number, and always check the small print when you sign up for a service or buy products online. Opt out of any potential third party contact and marketing emails or texts, and read privacy policies carefully. If forms require you to provide a number, it's best to give a landline since you can more easily block the calls, and avoid listing your mobile number anywhere online, including on social media sites.
Have you been plagued by spam texts? Leave your comments below...