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What to do if you receive unsolicited text messages

No-one wants to have their mobile phone bombarded with SPAM texts advertising products and services they don't want or need. This article explains more about receiving unwanted texts and how to stop it. If you are being charged for receiving texts, you might want to look into the Premium Rate texts first.

Spam vs Scam vs Premium Rate texts

There are three main types of unwanted texts that you can receive: spam, scam or a premium rate texts. 

Spam

Spam texts are sent out indiscriminately to any possible telephone number and are usually advertising something.

Examples of what constitutes spam are "Have you had an accident recently" or "Are you owed PPI" i.e. the electronic equivalent of junk mail. These do not cause any financial loss to the receiver and are legal, as they are used by companies in an attempt to get your business. However, there are certain terms and condition that these companies have to adhere to.

Scam

These texts relate to the situation where somebody tries to trick you into doing something that will benefit them at your expense.

An example of that would be "You have won a prize ring this number to claim" which results in the caller ringing a premium rate number and being charged exorbitant amounts of money. Another example relevant to this issue is "Click on this link to win shop vouchers" which results in the person unknowingly signing up for a Premium Rate subscription.

Premium Rate

These advise charges via text messages and are used by legitimate businesses/organisations to allow people to interact with them. 

They are used for: Quizzes and competitions, Voting (e.g. song contests), Charity donations, Digital content (e.g. apps, in-app purchases, digital media, one-off purchases or subscriptions), Adult service (e.g. chat, dating), Gambling etc.

However, in order for them to be legal, they have to have been agreed to by the recipient.

So, to sum up, the receipt of a Premium Rate text is neither Spam nor a Scam (although both of these things could have been used to get the agreement set up). They are advising of a legitimate charge which cannot be declined by the phone provider but can only be stopped by the person who "approved" it (irrespective of how this approval was actually given). 

What can I do to stop receiving unwanted texts?

Stopping Premium Rate texts

You may be able to stop this by sending STOP or STOP ALL to the telephone number or short code shown in the text message.

You might need between 10p and 16p credit to send the STOP message. However, because this command doesn't always work,  we recommend contacting the company directly to ensure the subscription is stopped. 

You can make a search on the shortcode here. Once you've retrieved the company name and customer service number, call it and follow the steps given to unsubscribe.

If you are still not happy with the results, you can contact PSA over the phone or via a webform to request further action against the company in question.

Stopping Spam texts 

When it comes to dealing with Spam texts, the most important thing to remember is that if you do not know who the sender is Do Not Reply. Instead, report that text by forwarding it to 7726. An easy way to remember 7726 is that they are the numbers on your telephone keypad that spell out the word SPAM. You will not be charged for reporting SPAM texts to 7726. There is more information in the Who can I complain to? section below so have a read there next. If you want to stop a particular number, you can block the number from contacting you from your phone. Keep in mind that because companies that send spam messages use different numbers, there is a chance that you might hear from them again.

Stopping Scam texts

Scams can be anywhere on the spectrum between immoral (you get something for your money but it is obviously worth less than you've paid) to downright illegal. Bodies that can help with issues related to scams are Action Fraud and the Police. If your bank accounts are involved then, of course, your bank MUST be informed. 

Not all scams are Spam, indeed many scams are actually targeted at certain groups of people rather than using the scattergun approach of Spam.

If the text is sent from a normal mobile number but it is from an unknown sender, or from a sender you are not familiar with, we recommend you don't reply. Responding to the text will confirm that your number is active and might result in you receiving more messages or even voice calls.

Instead, you may report the text to giffgaff by reaching out to our agents.

Who can I complain to?

First thing, you can report a SPAM text by forwarding it to 7726. An easy way to remember 7726 is that they are the numbers on your telephone keypad that spell out the word SPAM. You will not be charged for reporting SPAM texts to 7726.

If you wish to go further, know that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is responsible for enforcing the rules on spam texts.

So, if you are unhappy about receiving such texts or continue to receive them after informing the relevant company to stop, you should complain to the ICO.

The ICO has powers to investigate any suspected breaches of the regulations and take enforcement action against any organisation breaching the rules.

You can make a complaint to the ICO about SPAM texts here,

Or by calling their helpline on : 0 3 0 3 1 2 3 1 1 1 3.

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