It’s probably an inevitable result of the recession, but it seems that many people have been receiving texts along the lines of:
FREE MSG: Our records indicate u maybe entitled to £5000 in compensation
for your recent Accident, To claim just reply with CLAIM to this msg, 2
stop txt STOP
The number of people who have told me that they received these messages is massive – I would go as far as saying that around half the people I know in the UK have had these spam SMSs. One journalist who was reporting on the issue received three of these messages in one week.
Given the largely adverse reaction, why would the companies concerned send them? The answer is, that just like spam SMS, some people respond to them. Firstly, the chances of someone having had an accident are quite high and secondly when everyone’s short of money people are looking for a way to get more of it. In fact an RBS study revealed that 11% of claims resulted from a text or email received by the claimant. Inevitably where there’s the opportunity of making money, then it is a magnet for scammers. Yet it seems to be more than just scammers, it would appear that legitimate firms are using SMS but not always complying with the regulations (and certainly not best practice). However, tracing firms who send unsolicited text messages is not easy. I spent a few months tracking down one company last year, and even using my insider knowledge on how SMS works, it took a lot of effort to find the culprit. I suspect that as a result of the difficulties, the number of complaints are relatively low, as most people can’t identify the people who are spamming them.
It would seem that the Ministry of Justice, who regulate accident claims companies, are looking to clamp down further on unsolicited marketing, including voice calling, email and SMS especially. In August 2009 the MoJ had already stopped 100 firms from trading due to abuses, and it looks like the body will clamp down further. This is good news, as from a mobile marketing point of view, this kind of SMS spam is very bad for business. If most people’s experience of ‘mobile marketing’ are these messages, then their trust in legitimate and permission based marketing will be much less.