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back to article Cops bust den of text-spam spewers

Police have raided a UK office they suspect was a front for spam texters and are eyeing up other hotspots of SMS spam in a crackdown announced today by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). The police action comes after an ICO campaign to eradicate the practice which they say is distressing to recipients. In a survey also …

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FAIL

Hmm

Were they really the two best examples?

I find it hard to summon any kind of empathy or sympathy for either of those people.

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Childcatcher

Aren't we provocatively catty today.

You don't think it's reasonable to feel greatly aggrieved if someone sends you a text that leads a colleague or personal contact to believe that you're doing the dirty on them?

Or to follow "regulator" advice to reply with STOP, or STOP ALL, as at

http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/For-The-Public/FAQ.aspx#How_do_I_stop_an_SMStext_service

(Yes, apparently that's the "regulator".)

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Finally...

...some action against these spamming companies. They need to be hard on them as these companies provide nothing but nuisance for consumers.

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Megaphone

Very simple solution to all this.

Do what I do...have ALL text messages blocked. Have no use for it anyway.

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Coat

Though 12 people said they actually found the texts helpful

and this is why we, humans, continue to receive spam - because other people are stupid enough to respond to it and contribute to it.

mine's the one with the purchased marketing database in the pocket.

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Pint

Best News in Ages

I just delete them any way!

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Go

Please don't just delete them...

...forward them to your operator's SPAM reporting service. It's usually 7726, i.e. 'SPAM' on the keypad letters. Remember to add the sender's number in the forwarded SMS.

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Mushroom

Been doing this

It seems to be having an effect, but they come in bursts every few months. The spammers are using what appear to be random phone numbers, which makes me think that they have figured out some way to use PAYG SIM cards. Hopefully the carriers will figure out a way to clamp down on these wankers.

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Pirate

>Though 12 people said they actually found the texts helpful.

They probably worked in marketing.

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Unhappy

I wish they did work in marketing.

Bud sadly they were probably elderly and gullible, or lonely. Sad really. I very much doubt that they genuinely were useful to anyone other then the sender of them.

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Bronze badge

This whole grey area of unsolicited calls, whether on landline or mobile needs to be brought under control. I now receive several 0845 and number withheld calls daily on my home phone. I gather that some people are bombarded with them -- and some get tricked into buying stuff they don't need.

I ignore such calls thanks to caller display but, what about bona fide calls from my bank etc ?

This nonsense began when premium lines became available and as far as I can see they serve no good purpose and should be ended.

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Stop

You can kit to block numbers. Amazon sell one for £35 quid that out of the box blocks all withheld and international numbers. You can add numbers to it as/when the need arises.

There's a more advanced model that screens callers. Any unknown number gets a message asking them to record their name then it plays it back to you and you decide whether to answer or not. It too can block withheld/international and I think you can record a message for those.

I leave it up to the reader to decide what might be an appropriate message :D

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pig

I've been getting loads recently, after never recieving a single one for the 10 years I've had my private number. Of course I was always careful never to use my number on web forms and to give my other number to anything I don't trust.

The only place I have given my number in the last year is Dell customer support. And that was a week before I started recieving the messages.

I had a disagreement with them, and argued with the Indian call centre staff (it does get annoying when they don't have the technical knowledge to understand your complaint and then repeatedly call you during work hours despite telling them not to call me again...)

I strongly suspect their call centre staff of registering me for spam texts, but trying to find out where companies got your number is harder then winning the euro lottery.

I'm glad of the advice at the bottom of the article though. I have been replying stop to each text. It's good to know that I shouldn't bother, indeed that texting stop makes things worse.

I will be very angry if I have to change my number though.

I understand that dodgy companies wont take notice of the TPS but surely there is some way for the phone company (in my case vodafone) to filter out obvious spam texts?

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Report them to your carrier

You can easily report spam texts to your Carrier. Forward them to 7726 (SPAM) on T-Orange and O2, 87726 (VSPAM) on Vodafone and 37726 (3SPAM) on 3. If the carrier gets enough complaints then hopefully they will act on them.

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it's also worth pointing out that, on Orange at least, forwarding these messages to 7726 is FREE.

I always report spam text messages and then just delete them. I also enjoyed the irony recently of forwarding the orange "your bills are going up" text message to their spam hotline!

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After you forward them, but before you delete them...

... save the number in your phone's memory under "Spam" or "Junk" or similar.

That way the next time one comes from the same source, you can delete it without even wasting time reading it :-)

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Paris Hilton

Can anyone explain the economic basis

for spam texts? I can see that spam email exists because email is free - you only need a 1 in a million success rate to make a profit. But surely every text sent must cost *something* - even if they are using PAYG SIMs, surely no-one offers unlimited texts for £10 (or if they do, they should stop)?

Paris, because it's the closest to a 'confused' icon.

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Bronze badge

I can only assume the return must be higher.

These texts are a fishing exercise, to see if there is anyone really gullible out there. If someone responds (looking at the 12 mentioned in the article), then they know they've got a potential target.

At that point, I assume they set the big guns on them, someone good at hard sales over the phone, who will then call them and attempt to get bank details/extort money from them etc. etc.

As someone who's had a few of these 'Injury claim' messages, despite not having any injuries to speak of for a few years, I hope they fine them the max possible, throw all involved in to prison for a while, and then ban all of them from ever owning a mobile phone, business or anything else.

And best of luck catching the rest of them.

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Vic
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> But surely every text sent must cost *something*

Something - but not very much.

> even if they are using PAYG SIMs, surely no-one offers unlimited texts for £10

Yes. You can get a month of unlimited texts for £10. I doubt they'd offer a second month if you're using it for spam - but new SIMs are trivially obtained.

Alternatively, bulk SMS is available even in low volumes for less than 3p per text.

> (or if they do, they should stop)?

No, you're looking at the wrong end of the problem.

Spam SMS is unlawful. It needs to be stopped.

There's no reason to punish all those who don't break the law, only those that do.

Vic.

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The ones I get

Are almost exclusively "payday lenders" or "you have won". So the payoff is either a high-interest rate loan or your credit card info. Love to know what their response rate is.

Another possibility, is that they've already been paid "x" per SMS. If you Google for SMS bulk mailers, a number of "reputable firms" pop up. Perhaps the bursty nature of the problem is due to naive spammers trying out a new channel and discovering it doesn't pay?

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It's a *lot* higher success rate for spam texts, and a lot better return

Spam email is usually deleted or filtered, and cannot be used to charge you money. Usually, the purpose is to get you to click a link and buy something.

Spam texts, however, are almost never filtered, and can be used to start charging you money every month. It doesn't look like it costs a dime to "text WIN to this number to be entered in a drawing for a FREE Apple iPad!"

...And then they charge you $10 every month, for signing up for their "service". Most people don't catch it on their phone bill right away, and even when they do, it takes months to get it taken off your bill.

Finally, pay-as-you-go has an "unlimited texting" offer, usually $20 a month or so. That's only two people at $10/mo to sign up; if you (illegally) take anyone who texts "STOP", you might only need to send a dozen texts before you start making pure profit.

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Sadly they do

I won't name the network, but at least one offers exactly that (and more) for a tenner. OK, such use would be completely against their "no commercial use" T&Cs, but these scammers are basically getting such SIMs (and I know for a fact that a number have been using the afore-not-mentioned network in this way) and spamming until caught up with, then vanish (or take out more SIMs under more false names, etc etc).

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Unhappy

> Alternatively, bulk SMS is available even in low volumes for less than 3p per text.

From firsthand experience, 100% paid by credit card numbers that belong to somebody else, so the price doesn't really matter.

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Happy

Thanks for the helpful and interesting responses. I've learnt something new today.

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Anonymous Coward

Spam calls

I keep getting spam calls from people with very strong Indian accents claiming to be from "The Windows 7 Help Desk" who then go on to say they've detected a virus on my computer and that I'll need to buy their anti-virus software. Not only do I not have Windows on my machine (for obvious reasons) but I also already have two sets of anti-virus software running at all times...

Obvious scammers!

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FAIL

@chris Miller - funding spam

We use an SMS system where I work, essentially an old Nokia phone with a Pay as You Go sim, hooked to the back of a monitoring system. Top it up with £5 and purchase an Unlimited Text Bundle from Orange using said £5 credit. Tadaa, "unlimited" texts for a month.

Usually, we send 10-15 sms a day to systems engineers, but one evening my shell script went haywire, and around 1000 sms later, I finally got into the office to stop it. - Orange happily let me continue sending for the rest of that month though, without so much as a "Please stop" message back

So even if you're only going to get your 1000 for £5 that's £0.005 per text, likely you'll get many more. How much do they make in referral fees if just one of those 1000 hits a customer who feels the need to contact an ambulance chaser?

Much cheaper than cold calling people, and none of the aggravation of employing a room full of call centre workers

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Anonymous Coward

I just ignored them.

Anyone who was stupid enough to think STOP would actually stop the mesages deserved what they got.

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Doubt the cops were involved

Why would the police raid any premises in relation to spam text? A breach of PECR isn't a criminal offence (it's civil), so surely the headline is, well, nonsense? It's the ICO who did the press release, and they don't mention cops anywhere.

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Though 12 people said they actually found the texts helpful.

I LOL at this sentence. It was a way to cover up the pain. The 90 percent rate of unwanted messages destroyed email. Now the text messages will go the same way?

So how to fix? The rates need to be boosted for text messages? Charges for sending email?

It needs to be cost prohibitive to send text-spam but I don't mean dollars or pounds. These busts need to be headlined and encouraged.

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Anonymous Coward

ICO enforcement - you must be joking

To take another example: They can levy fines of £5000 per instance (and prison) to those making unsolicited marketing calls to numbers registered with the Telephone Preference Service. I used to report abuses until I discovered that they have never ever imposed any penalty in over 10 years with hundreds of thousands of complaints registered. Then there's the recent story of the ICO being afraid to raise phone hacking concerns with news media "because they are too powerful".

The marketing lobby is too strong, their response is that they are legitimate businesses providing a valuable service to other businesses. As regards unwanted marketing phone calls their response is "all you need do is put the phone down..." while disregarding the possibility that I was in the bath but have to answer the phone promptly because it may be my elderly parents in difficulty and needing my urgent help.

And as for the recent practise of marketing calls coming from India, my response to an Indian voice on the phone is to put it down, I don't even bother to tell them to F... Off any more. Any legitimate busineses using Indian call centres (like my bank, my telecoms/broadband providers) please take note.

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