War on text spam steps up a gear

The war against SMS spammers – which bombard consumers with ambulance-chasing texts – has claimed another scalp, after the Information Commissioner’s Office confiscated 20,000 SIMs in its second raid in three months.
The raid, on a Manchester firm, follows a swoop in December which led to the same number of SIMs being taken out of service.
Both businesses are accused of operating ‘SIM banks’ that automatically send large numbers of messages from unregistered pay-as-you-go SIM cards.
The move follows criticism that the ICO’s war on text spam was ‘pathetic’, after the regulator claimed to have made ‘significant progress’ only to admit it has yet to catch – or stop – a single perpetrator.
It is believed that millions of messages are sent each day to UK mobile users to harvest their numbers, selling them on to claims marketing companies. Most messages include wording such as “Our records indicate that you may be entitled to compensation of £3750 for the accident you had”.
Anyone replying will be verifying their number, after which spammers resell them in bulk to claims marketing companies.
In September last year, the Government outlawed insurance companies from selling on the names of people who have had an accident – so called “claims farming” – although SMS spammers appear to be carrying on regardless.
The move followed a campaign spearheaded by former Home Secretary Jack Straw and a warning by the DMA that the rise in SMS spam – triggered mainly by firms offering compensation – threatened to damage legitimate mobile marketing.

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