/ Technology

Fed up with pesky spam texts? Let’s get rid of them

Digital envelope

Spam texts are fast becoming a regular annoyance for many of us. According to the ICO, there have been more than 30,000 unsolicited calls and texts reported in the last six months. So what’s being done about it?

Ooh I’ve got a text! Oh, it’s just another offer to help me reclaim my (non-existent) PPI insurance. Ooh, another message! Damn, just a company trying to help me get money for that injury that never happened. These are both examples of spam texts.

I’ve certainly noticed an increase in the number of these unsolicited texts sent to my own mobile phone. I’m clearly not alone according to the figures from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), and those are just the cases that have been reported. The true numbers must be much higher.

Commenter Kev shared his experiences of spam texts on a previous Conversation:

‘I’ve never given my phone number out to anyone outside of my immediate family, but I still receive dozens of spam texts every day. Found my only option is to set the phone to a silent alert for all incoming text calls, except for friends. Unsolicited texts are apparently illegal but it’s a pointless law unless somebody is prepared to enforce it.’

Spam filters for mobile phones

My hotmail account, which I’ve had forever, has managed to build up quite a nice collection of spam emails over the years. But thankfully the junk mail folder deals with the majority of them nicely. With the influx of unsolicited texts, perhaps mobile providers should offer some kind of spam filter for your phone?

Well, we asked four of the main mobile providers about what they were doing about the problem. They came back with lots of promising sounding phrases, such as ‘spam filtering solutions’ and a ‘spam firewall’, all of which are being assessed or coming soon. I’d like to encourage providers to make sure that spam filtering technologies are firmly on their agenda.

Of course, it’s not just the industry that should be doing something about this. Their efforts should be part of a joined up approach along with Ofcom and the ICO (who have the power to fine the senders of unsolicited texts up to £500,000) to ensure we have a system that prosecutes offenders and protects consumers.

Finally, a word of warning, don’t reply to a spam text if you don’t know where it’s come from. Even texting ‘STOP’ or asking to be taken off their list could just confirm that your number’s active. Instead, you can report these unwanted texts to your mobile provider, as well as the ICO, which will allow them to investigate.

If you’re with Orange, O2 or T-Mobile, forward them to 7726. For Vodafone users, forward the text to 87726. And for Three Mobile customers, send them to 37726. If you’re with another provider, you better ask them what number they use to report spam texts. Have you seen an influx of spam texts to your mobile?

What do you find most annoying?

All three are equally annoying (57%, 376 Votes)

Nuisance phone calls (31%, 207 Votes)

Spam text messages (7%, 47 Votes)

Spam emails (5%, 34 Votes)

Total Voters: 668

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Comments
Member

The spammers simply work their way through number ranges indiscriminately. Through Orange I have two mobile numbers on the same SIM card which are very similar; one is +7 above the other. I often get spam texts in duplicate, once on each number.

I’m looking at getting a French prepaid SIM card to avoid paying roaming charges when I go to France. I notice that my chosen provider (B&You) imposes a limit of 100 different numbers that you can call or text in a month. Presumably this is to prevent spamming and other abuse. We ought to have a similar restriction in the UK, at least on new connections or where the customer’s identity hasn’t been verified.

Member

According to the 3 website their number is 37726.

http://support.three.co.uk/SRVS/CGI-BIN/WEBISAPI.DLL?Command=New,Kb=Mobile,Ts=Mobile,T=Article,varset_cat=callsemails,varset_subcat=3788,Case=obj(3300)

silly link

Its a shame that the ICO don’t impose a similar system for landline, by simply dialling a number after or during the call. I got one at 20:55 last night from a PPI claims company.

Member

And last paragraph … ” If you’re with another produce” think you mean provider

Member

Thanks Will, fixed that typo. And you’re right, Three Mobile’s is different, which we’ve informed Ofcom about as it’s listed on their advice page.

Member

I have PAYG phones on three networks. One is switched on most of the time and the others are used only if I am in an area with no Vodafone signal. I don’t get any spam text messages. I wonder if this is because I don’t send texts or if it is just coincidence.

Member

I like the idea posted by nfh where the phone company puts a constraint on senders. You could also permit receivers to create constraints – for example:
* block text from anybody not in my contacts list
* block text from anybody that hasn’t paid the network £100
* block text from anybody that hasn’t had an active account for 1 year

It should be really easy to deal with SMS spam. An SMS message is much simpler than email and travels via simpler routes.

If somebody sends multiple SMS messages, the network could add an increasing delay between each one. This would be acceptable for innocent people sending party invites but a major impediment to ‘shoot and scoot’ spammers who need to send lots of messages at the same time before they get shut down.

If a number is the subject of a multiple spam complaints the delay would automatically start at a higher value.

Member

A few days ago, I got in touch with Orange to discuss the burning issue of spam texts.
The following transcript of our online ‘chat’ will tell you everything you need to know about my network service provider.

Please do read on… 🙂

Peter: Hi, I’m a pay monthly customer with Orange. I am receiving an increasing number of spam / unsolicited text messages on my mobile handset, mostly about PPI claims and compensation. How do I stop this? Does Orange offer spam filtering?

Orange: Have you registered with the Telephone Preference Service?

Peter: Yes, my mobile number is registered with the TPS but spam texts have been increasing.

Orange: You can also text the words ‘STOP ALL’ back to them and that stops them too.

Peter: Doesn’t this just confirm back to the spammer that you are fair game?

Orange: I am just trying to help you stop them Peter.

(Then a big pause lasting 8 minutes and 20 seconds…)

Peter: Hello, are you still there [Orange] ?

Orange: Yes I am.

Peter: What steps are you able to take to stop unwanted texts?

Orange: From who?

Peter: Anyone who is sending unsolicited texts, spam. Is there any filtering at Orange?

Orange: You can also text the words ‘STOP ALL’ back to them and that stops them too.

Peter: I think we are going round in circles here. I have been advised not to respond to unsolicited texts as this just allows spammers to send more… am I right?

Orange: If you ignore them they can stop after a while or you can send a text as above, or re-register with the TPS, thank you Peter.

Peter: Is Orange filtering SMS text traffic on the mobile network?

Orange: You can forward the text messages to 7726 and we investigate them for you Peter.

[Chat ends]

Member

Oh dear. Seems you know more about it than they do.