Scamwatch: new text message fraud

Did you know you could be charged to receive messages?

Updated: 
man typing text message

Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, a new text message scam that sends you unsolicited video games, glamour videos, or pornography at a cost of £4.50 per message.

How does it work?

Smartphone users are being warned to be on their guard against unscrupulous fraudsters sending them text messages that are billed to their mobile phone accounts at £4.50 each.

Premium-rate text providers say they obtain customers' numbers legitimately through people entering them on websites.

But mobile phone operators believe random number generators may also be being used.

However the numbers are obtained, some of those targeted receive several messages a day. Premium-rate telecoms regulator PhonePayPlus has received more than 7,400 complaints about companies sending unsolicited texts.

How can I avoid being caught out?

The best way to reduce the chances of being caught out by scams of this kind is to avoid giving out your mobile phone number in online forms.

Mobile phone companies such as EE, O2, Vodafone and Three are also urging customers to check their monthly bills on a regular basis and immediately report any unknown charges.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

Consumer champion Which? advises consumers hit by scams of this kind to reply to the message with the word "stop" before complaining to the company sending out the texts and asking for a refund from their mobile phone company. "Keep the message for evidence," it said.

If you do not receive a satisfactory response to your complaint, you can also contact PhonePayPlus www.phonepayplus.org.uk on 0300 30 300 20.

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