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back to article OFT sends out scam texts

The Office of Fair Trading has sent out thousands of fake scam text messages to 18-24 year-old mobile phone users to raise awareness about scams. The text message, sent out on 15 February 2008 as part of Scams Awareness Month, reads: "Urgent! U may have won £1k cash with '2 Good 2 B True.'" It is followed shortly afterwards by a …

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Paris Hilton

6 percent?

"The OFT estimates that about six per cent of all scam victims are aged between 15-24, losing money to a variety of mass-marketed scams each year."

Six percent seems very low for a demographic spanning ten years, and a demographic that uses mobile technology more [I expect] than most. So why not target a more gullible group?

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Anonymous Coward

PhonePayPlus and SMSus = chocolate teapot ???

I've had a few very dodgy misaddressed hardcopy mails from a Stockport loan company, whose only published point of contact was an 0905 number. The Phonepayplus website didn't recognise the number, SMSus didn't recognise the number, and the very helpful PhonePayPlus lady on the phone didn't recognise the number. It turns out that their public-facing systems only recognise their selection of "most popular" premium numbers, but none of them bother to tell you this up front, and the public-facing staff didn't know either. Not ideal.

More effective might be to call the bit of Solihull Trading Standards which is piloting a service called Scambusters. Finding the number is left as an exercise to the scambusting student.

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How does this work then

OFT sent texts only to "18-24 year-old mobile phone users"? How do they know how old you are?

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"Urgent! PhonePayPlus SMSus '2 Good 2 B True.'"

The PhonePayPlus (Icstis) SMSus 'service' (at 12p a pop) is little better than any of the premium rate phone-in scams.

PhonePayPlus could and should have a search-able data base of accredited premium rate services. This should include contact details, costs and the numbers they are being operated on.

Potential victims could then make up their own minds if they want anything to do with companies like Zamano, Opera, Dialogue, Eckoh, Hybyte, mBlox, etc,etc.....who have long histories of complaints for repeat 'scam' offenses.

Unsolicited reverse billed sms text messages should be considered a criminal matter and dealt with by the police and not 'investigated' by PhonePayPlus.

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Privacy & electronic Communicaitons Regulations

As SMSus is basically a commercial service, aren't these terribly funny texts basically just unsolicited marketing SMSs and therefore unlawful?

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Bronze badge

Is it just me?

Is it just me or does the name of the regulator seem to have more in common with scammers and other dodgy companies rather than a regulator. Most regulators seem to have a name like of Office Of XYZ, XYZ regulator, etc. PhonePayPlus just does not come across as an authoritarian name in any way. In fact it sounds more like a company you could use to pay for things rather than one which regulates the way phones are used to pay for things.

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Gates Horns

Off topic?

Wow, why are they not spending the time investigating a far more damaging and common scam among teenagers... Microsoft has been ripping off schools for years, and fooling families into buying their Office software a exuberant prices because "They need it for school."

Perhaps we should be telling people they don't have to send money to the Borg to go to school.

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@Is it just me?

No, it's not just you.

"Phonepayplus" is a stupid name which gives its work no credibility whatsoever.

There again, ICSTIS had very little credibility either, given that it was often an almost completely toothless watchdog.

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@anonymous sms

ICSTIS (as was) always said it would be too difficult to keep a properly updated list available, yet OfTel/OfCom have been publishing the Specified Numbering Scheme for years which with a little DB or spreadsheet knowledge can be turned into a nice big list of number types, network operator, charges, etc.

Some web sites even have searchable versions;

<url>http://www.ukphoneinfo.com/section/tci/locator.shtml</url>

<url>http://www.dupre.co.uk/calc.asp</url>

I used to do something similar in a DB for my work colleagues when I was in the telecoms industry, which required practically no upkeep, yet the regulators seem incapable of making this available free/cheaply and easily :(

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