Following on from my previous post about spam SMS, here are a few things you should and shouldn’t do to deal with it.
If you are suspicious about an SMS, don’t open it. However, if you do open it, it isn’t the end of the world. If it is a standard SMS then it cannot make a charge to your phone or provide any information to the spammers. If it is a ‘service’ message then the icon on your phone will look different to other messages – don’t open that type.
Unlike your PC, viruses are almost non-existent and apps will need to be installed first. So, the risk to your phone is less then opening or downloading a file on your computer.
DON’T click on any links in an SMS – it may lead to a charge to your phone or open unwanted mobile site.
DON’T open any SMS with an icon that looks different to the standard one on your phone – it will be a service message (or WAP push) and may download an app or take you to a mobile site.
DON’T delete the message … at least not until you have recorded the details. You can get the message details on most handsets without opening the SMS itself.
DON’T reply to a message, even if it is a STOP message. They may be either trying to verify the number or use the STOP as a method to send further billings. If you are certain the company sending the message is reputable then it is OK to respond to them by SMS.
DO make a note of the date, time and message that was sent. You will need all of this information to make a complaint.
DO make a note of the Sender ID. This is the number that it appears to come from. Sometimes a name is used instead of a number. Again make a note of this.
DO check for the owner of a shortcode number. If you see a 4,5 or 6 digit then it will be attached to a premium rate code. You can check the owner by using the PPP number checker here. If it appears to have come from a long number (looks like a mobile phone number), then you cannot identify the owner. An HLR check will tell you the network and unique ID which will help to trace the owner.
DO report it to your network provider.
DO complain to the owner of the number. Ask them, not only to remove your number but also find out where they got it from. They are required by law to hold evidence of your opt in. Many companies will just ignore your request. If that’s the case, contact PPP and the ICO (details below).
DO complain to PPP (http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/output/default.aspx) the premium rate regulator for shortcode numbers.
DO complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (www.ico.gov.uk) if your privacy has be breached.
DO complain to Ofcom, the telecoms regulator – they may tell you to speak to PPP or the ICO depending on the query, but it’s still worth contacting them.
And finally …
DON’T give up! Most mobile service providers will ignore you. PPP and the ICO take for ever to respond, and often say they can’t deal with the matter. Sometimes they may just say that they’ve opted you out, but won’t take any further action. Don’t take no for an answer. Keep emailing or phoning until action is taken against the company.
If you need any further advice or want me to make an HLR check on a number, then drop me a line through this blog.