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back to article Phone watchdog plans text spam clampdown

PhonepayPlus, the regulator responsible for the premium rate and phone-paid services industry, is planning to clamp down on the black market in lists of mobile numbers in response to growing anger at text spam. Trading of such lists is thought to be a major factor behind a surge in public complaints over unsolicited text …

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Boffin

You don't need to buy a list of mobile numbers!

You don't need to buy a list of mobile numbers!

You can make your own:

07500 000001

07500 000002

07500 000003

...

07999 999998

07999 999999

There you go!

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Flame

Marketing Muppets

Why can't these assholes get the message that pissing all over prospective customers is *NOT* the best way of encouraging them to buy their product(s).

We have spam, text spam, pre-recorded cold calls, pop-up and other intrusive web ads, TV ads that ramp up the volume, unskippable trailers on DVDs, Phorm spying on us, glaring product placement in films and tv programmes, and so on.

All these things do is totally *PISS ME OFF*. they do *NOT* encourage me to buy *anything*, just the opposite, in fact.

Flame Icon, 'cos burning at the stake is the only suitable punishment for over-zealous marketing muppets.

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Don´t forget..

07999 999919 surly he needs his spam... high volume advertising aswell

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Stop

Escew?

If all money earned through premium rate phone calls/texts (and credit card payments) were held in escrow for a few months before being released to the company, then spammers wouldn't be able to get the money before being caught by PhonepayPlus etc.

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If payphoneplus have teeth...

The comment about "£250000 after 4 weeks vs. £5000 after 6 months" is really interesting. Curiously, whenever I've had something to complain about it has turned out to be outside Payphoneplus' remit in some way (*). Perhaps this is because the scammers actually are put off by by their "teeth", and so avoid them; in contrast they aren't put off by the non-teeth of Ofcom or the Information Commissioner. If this is true, let's expand their scope. Or give more teeth to those other bodies.

(*) e.g. "national rate" numbers, where they make a profit from you calling back but it's not considered premium rate, and international scams (florida vacations).

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I still don't understand

Just check where the cash is going from this crap and freeze the accounts. For few days so you can investigate. Allow incoming transfers but prohibit all withdrawals.Easy.

If it's a reputable company and there's a chance somebody's trying to frame them go after the sender of messages. If not, don't even bother looking for them.

Same with spam. Is it such a hard task? Just a simple cooperation of banks to freeze spammers accounts as soon as those are found. Starve them of cash and they will stop.

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Flame

"Free's free, or it's not. And that's it."

Where'd they get this guy? Regulators aren't supposed to talk like that. They're supposed to say "We will be examining the general content of advertising in relation to price promotions to ensure that consumers are well-served by a market regulated in the interest of all stakeholders blah blah blah give me some money my existence as a human being makes humanity worse off".

Maybe it's a new government thing. They've figured out that if they talk like human beings, we'll mistake them for human beings and think they'll actually do something.

@Eponymous: Doesn't matter if you don't like it, the same rule applies: they only need 1 in 1.000,000 to buy something and the trivial cost of the spam is paid. It doesn't matter to them what the other 999,999 think. Now, if 10 out of the 999,999 people, say, got angry to enough to throw a brick through the window of their offices, tar and feather the marketing droids and drag them to their stocks for an old-fashioned rotten fruit pelting, spam would suddenly become much less attractive. But we don't have a society to do that sort of thing anymore.

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@Spleen

Ah, so I should direct my fury at the twunts who *fall* for the advertising bullshit rather than at the assholes who make the ads in the first place.

Fair enough. I'll form my own advertising company and distribute millions on intrusive and annoying ads. Anyone who replies will get shipped off to an isolated island and used for medical experiments.

Lets face it, if you're thick enough to respond to spam, you are probably too thick to be much use to humanity in any other way.

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Boffin

Simple...

Why don't Ofcom simply ban text messages which do not have a valid/real sender number? Do that, and the offenders can be traced, and stopped. Simple, methinks!

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You could always

Get SMS deactivated on your phone

No messages = no problem

@Spleen re tar and feather, threatening to dress them in a concrete overcoat and telling them that they will be sleeping with the fish if they dont stop might be far more effective.

I pity the poor bastard/bitch that gets allocated 07999 999999 as he/she will get spam overload either now or when it is bought as a platinum number for £2k on ebay.

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George Kidd is full of Premium Rate bullshit

Chris,

Why have you written an article on 'spam'? People are complaining to PhonePayPlus regarding the unsolicited debiting of their mobile phone accounts for Premium Rate Services they did not request. The problem is not spam it's theft that the regulators refuse to report to the police.

The problem of unsolicited billing theft is not restricted to the UK. Class actions were filed against all the US cell phone carriers and companies like mBlox and Opera Telecom. In the last two days AT&T has recently agreed to refund their customers for charges they have incurred over the previous four years. It widely expected the other carriers will follow suit.

As for equating the epidemic of rogue dialler with spam:

Throughout 2004 (Jan-Aug) Icstis, now PhonePayPlus, received many tens of thousands of complaints concerning 09 premium rate numbers mysteriously appearing on peoples phone bills.

This is what they failed to tell the victims:

Twenty percent of all complaints concerned a block of 3,500 numbers(0909967****)supplied by Telecom One. Despite receiving numerous repeat complaints for each and every number BT were allowed to continue billing them for eight months.

It wasn't until May 05 that Ofcom finally told Telecom One to co-operate with Icstis's (PhonePayPlus) investigation. The investigation was closed because Telecom One's Majorcan 'service providers' had already left the market in August 2004.

PhonePayPlus and Ofcom are a damn disgrace at a premium rate.

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Regulator? Yeah right!

ICSTIS/PhonepayPlus is a TRADE ASSOCIATION.

It was created in the 80s/90s to avoid govt legislation on the phone sex line charges which were causing trouble then.

It exists to SEEM to be doing something, not to actually do anything.

It was delegated a very small amount of power recently by Ofcom (which now says that companies are obliged to do what ICSTIS tells them, but the fines aren't enforceable) If rulings are ignored all ICSTIS can do is refer to Ofcom.

ICSTIS/PhonepayPlus = Paper Tiger - something created to avoid REAL legal powers being used and hurting the members of ICSTIS.

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replies to comments

Some comments for readers who have asked questions:

1: Banning texts without valid numbers - These are already illegal. No enforcement action is ever taken.

2: Escrow: already happening, but investigations don't stop payments being sent.

3: "Outside ICSTIS remit" - It's funny that, isn't it.... See my other posting.

4: Blocking origins of spam: Hard. It's trivial to forge SMS envelopes if you have access to the SMS network - it's even less secure than Email. Some telcos are trying harder than others , but the reality is that spammers simply walk around their blocks.

5: Following the money. "Why yes" - but Ofcom makes it pretty clear it is not interested in individual breaches of the law and that's WHY we have such a problem. Perhaps a lawsuit forcing them to enforce the laws is in order?

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Paris Hilton

TANSTAAFL

There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

Yet the public constantly fall for it.

BOGOF Buy One Get One Free- is another fantasy, inflate the price by 100%, then offer it BOGOF.

BTTOA is a better description, Buy two, throw one away.

The best twist I ever saw on this was a supermarket who sold Xmas crackers at £10 a box, BOGOF.

Then after Xmas sold them at "half price" -£5 (which was what all the other supermarkets were selling them at before Xmas anyway).

If you get a text or a missed call from someone you don't know, ignore it, if it is important, they will ring back.

Paris, because she probably knows better than to answer anonymous calls.

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Anonymous Coward

About time!!

I've changed my mobile number SIX times since 2007.

Complained to the information commissioner at least 30 to 40 times. Waste of time.

Complained to ICSTIS (so many times, I could actually spell their name right! and then they go and change it)

Result: Naff all. Although two companies had debited money from my phone while I viewed the link to find their crappy number to text STOP to. Suppose it's probably like spam - they want to know if you've looked at their shite and I should have just deleted the texts!

Although I suspect my previous phone provider had something to do with it, I got fed up of talking to *insert fake British name* in India (not giving a shit) and moved to O2, I've not had a single junk text since!

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"I'm a bit ahead of our board on this,"

Said George Kidd

This is, of course, the board that currently contains four premium rate crooks. Thank goodness kidding George is not "a bit behind them".

But what do the board actually do? They sit around a table listening to Sir Ali G "proactively leveraging his pre-emptive synergies" and telling us that he has had a vision (hallucination?) that we can trust PRS.

The people actually responsible for doing stuff about PRS are the executive - led, funnily enough by George Kidd.

He failed to act (until forced by media pressure) on the rogue dialler epidemic; ditto for the "crazy frog" epidemic; ditto for the TV based PRS scams; and omplaints to PhonePayPlus have just gone up by 40%.

If George really wished to stop premium rate crime, he could do this now by introducing a few simple measures (including some of the ideas mentioned here; double opt in; reverse charge SMS blocking; reporting criminals to the police and so on). The fact that he has refused point blank to implement these simple and essential measures over many years is, ipso facto, proof that George has no intention whatsoever of cleaning up this industry - only in continuing to "reduce the appearance" of unregulated theft and fraud.

Close PayPhonePlus down now and set up a new branch of Ofcom dedicated to actually putting in place the measures required to prevent premium rate scams.

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Hypocrisy alert !

Sir Alistair Graham, who pontificates on cleaning up standards in public life, is the chairman of PhonePayPlus, which turns a blind eye to scammers who steal from mobile phone subscribers by reverse charge SMS theft messages !

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