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Spammed by SMS? Share your tales of troublesome texts!

'Sick of spam' written on post-it notes

How much spam do you get on your mobile? Complaints about spam texts are on the increase, suggesting it’s on the rise – but how would you feel if your texts were limited in order to combat the problem?

Between 20 and 30 an hour. That’s how many spam text messages I received while working in India earlier this year.

The problem was so bad that it was actually affecting the battery life on my usually-trusty little brick phone, since its screen was lighting up enthusiastically every couple of minutes with yet another quiz or local offer.

‘How much do you know about Sachin Tendulker?’
‘Name the latest Katrina Kaif song and win a prize!’
‘Half price pizzas near you, find more local offers.’

All day. Every day. Non-stop.

Limiting mass texts

That’s why I smiled at news that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is taking action to curb the non-stop spam culture that blights the lives of the 700 million mobile users in India.

From now on, all mobile users will find themselves limited to a maximum of 100 messages per day – in theory, stopping the spam-bots which require a mobile account to send these messages en masse.

Of course, the problem here is this action would also affect everyday phone users who just happen to send a lot of messages each day – particularly common amongst young people.

UK spam texts on the rise

But it’s not just India that’s being affected. According to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office the number of complaints received about spam text messaging is rising rapidly.

Have you been afflicted by unwanted spam messages on your mobile? Would you mind having a limit on the number of texts you can send if it meant you received fewer spam texts? What are the worst examples of spam texts you’ve been sent?


Oddly enough, I have had a real battle with my service provider (Vodafone) to get them to stop sending me marketing emails. Even when I responded with STOP or STOP ALL the text kept coming. I eventually contacted them by email (quite difficult) and asked them to stop. They said they would and for a while they stopped coming but then they resumed. Once again I asked them to stop. They expressed sympathy and said they would stop but they continued. Eventually, I told them I would buy some Vodafone shares and would raise the matter at the next AGM. Then they stopped but I quite expect them to start up again sometime.

Are you registered with the Telephone Preference Service? I know that by law you are then not allowed to receive marketing phone calls, but I don’t know whether this also applies to SMS.

You might also like to read the following. Althiough this applies to mail, it might also apply to SMS:

Or why not just delete the messages upon receipt (the simplest answer)? Are they too many for you just to ignore them?

I’ve never had problems with my provider (Orange). I sent STOP and messages have stopped.

Steven NW London says:
19 October 2011

Just got a spam text today 🙁

Sender shows as TJC and reads “The Jewellery Channel is now available ALL-DAY on Freeview Channel 60, 24/7. TSTOP to 64446 to opt-out.”

Note the mention of the opt-out as an incentive to respond and the unsual TSTOP in place of the standard STOP.

I never had any direct contact with TJC or the The Jewellery Channel (part of the same organisation, I understand).

Reported to my mobile phone operator, Virgin, who appear unable to help: they hold no record of incoming SMS traffic; have no means of looking up any 5-digit short-code; have no means of blocking senders other than through a change of number. They suggested to reply with STOP, which I am reluctant to do as it is an unscrupulous sender, so I do not wish to confirm the existence of my number.

Such a shame that the UK has no effective regulation on the matter.

The TSTOP may be a simple typing mistake. Or you could be replying to a scam, costing you a lot of money to do so.

Have you checked your balance, to make sure that you weren’t charged for getting this message?

You are right to be wary, but if it has cost you nothing, why not just delete it instead of going to all the trouble you did?

Steven NW London says:
24 October 2011

Thank you Louis for you comments. As you might have guessed, I do not get many spam text messages and I want to keep it that way. Somehow doing nothing does not strike me as a winning strategy.

The short-code messages must be going through operators in some form of standard service (eg, they must conform to a STOP request). So there must be scope for some further control and regulation (eg, destination numbers must not be on some hypothetical list on the lines of the Telephone Preference Service). An obligation on each mobile operator to run an easy-reporting services might help. The Consumer Association might help promote such measures….

The number of messages received by Rich astounded me.

What I hate are the messages that one unwittingly pays (a premium rate) to receive.

Having a limit on the number of messages one can send / receive may not curb spam. It may mean that you cannot communicate with your contacts.

Also, how does one decide what a sensible limit would be, as we all have different habits?

A more practical solution would be for mobile phone operators to block spam. Could they have spam filters, as ISPs do? Could they introduce the facility to block messages, as one can with email?

I have now had to issue Vodafone with a formal message under section 11 of the Data Protection Act 1998 demanding that they desist from sending me unwanted direct marketing SMS’s. Despite all my calls to them asking them to stop and their confirmations that they would within 28 days, they seem incapable to implementing my request – probably due to their software not being sufficiently robust or possibly because the STOP response doesn’t do anything at all.
The problem is if they don’t act on my notice. Who do I appeal to then? Does anyone have any experience in this matter?

Paul Martin says:
30 December 2011

I have been receiving roughly two messages a week from a company called “scotcall” telling me that “this is an important message regarding your account. Please call us on 0844 257 9097 quoting reference number ….”. I’ve never had any dealings with this company and delete the messages. An internet search showed that this company are sending spam messages to others and although I’ve never rang them I feel that they are a marketing company that want me to pay for a phone call where they give a sales pitch. Is there any way I can stop them sending me messages?

Despite me issuing Vodafone with a notice under Section 11 of the Data Protection Act and having a long discussion with a member of staff in their directors office wherin I was promised that I was now?? off their marketing list, both my wife and I continnue to receive unwanted spam from them. It is clear to me that their software which is supposed to act in response to my frequent STOP responses is not robust enough to keep stopping them. I cannot belive it is bad will towards me, it has to be incompetance.

Take the matter further. After all, you have already served the notice.

Kev says:
29 March 2012

I’ve never given my phone no. out to anyone outside of my immediate family but I still receive dozens of spam texts every day. I approached Tesco mobile because one of the spammers was using their voicemail service for replies, but they refused to discuss. I approached Vodafone as my service provider and they are not interested either. I asked for a change of number but that would cost me £25 with no guarantee that spamming would stop. I feel it’s an invasion of privacy that I can’t have a meeting without constant interruptions from spam texts on my phone. Found my only option is to set the phone to a silent alert for all incoming text calls except for friends I specifically want to receive them from and set just them with a proper alert. Unsolicited texts are apparently illegal but it’s a pointless law unless somebody is prepared to enforce it – and nobody is.

I now keep a list of the spammers’ numbers, each time I fill in an online form that demands a contact number, I use one of the spammers’ numbers! Get the b*str*ds back with a bit of their own medicine!

deanw says:
6 February 2015

on my itemised mobile bill i have a 10p charge for a premium text rate to 64446 so dont even reply to it, it just shows your numbers active