Your phone beeps or buzzes and you see that you’ve a new text message.
Will it be from a long lost family member? A flirty message from a lover? A funny joke from a friend?
We’ve noticed a growing problem of ‘spam’ text messages used to tempt people in to taking out instant short-term loans, to seek help with “wiping off debt” or reclaim PPI. There are reports of as many as eight million texts being sent in the UK every day meaning that more and more people are exposed to these dodgy companies.
Many of these spam texts are sent by fee-charging debt management companies that make unrealistic promises to help with your money worries. But because they’re out to make a profit they may not have your best interests at heart.
Is there a bigger debt problem?
If you’re in a position where these sorts of texts might look tempting, it’s important to take a step back and look at your situation as a whole. It could be an indicator that there’s an underlying debt problem which could escalate out of control if not dealt with.
We always recommend getting free and impartial advice from us so that we can make sure that we’ve looked at your situation thoroughly and explored all of the options that are available to you.
Rather than responding to an ‘out of the blue’ text with unrealistic promises why not use our online advice service StepChange Debt Remedy as a quick way of assessing your financial situation and finding a solution.
Many spam texts mention that you might be entitled to claim back thousands of pounds by reclaiming mis-sold PPI. As any regular reader of this blog would know, you don’t need to pay to reclaim PPI. You can download free template letters and claim back yourself, which will save you hundreds or maybe even thousands in fees that you don’t need to pay.
Received a spam text?
What should you do if you receive a spam text?
- Never reply: the most important thing to remember is never to reply to a SPAM text. The worst thing you can do is send a message back, even if the message says you can reply with the word STOP to opt out of the mailing list. Many companies send these messages to randomly generated numbers, and if you reply your number becomes more valuable as you are actually confirming that you’re a ‘real’ person. This means you could end up being bombarded with many more rather than stopping the problem.
- Report: you should report any spam texts you receive to your network provider. Most networks have a special number that you can forward these text messages on to.
- Complain: you can complain to the Information Commissioner on their helpline on 0303 123 1113 or email email@example.com.
The Information Commissioner’s Office is taking steps to tackle this problem, including blocking the SIM cards used to send spam text messages out. To do this they need to know more about the kind of messages that are being sent, so it’s essential that spam texts are reported as soon as possible.
Finally, you can help us expose the scale of this problem by tweeting that you have received a spam text using the hashtag #debttext. if you’re not on Twitter you can email Ed in our Press Office to get involved in the campaign.