An explosion in the number of unsolicited text messages selling financial services has prompted a scam alert warning from Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards.
Officers say that mobile phone users should be wary of text messages promising compensation for accidents, tax rebates and high interest loans after a doubling in the number of complaints to industry regulator, The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The ICO says that there were as many complaints about unsolicited sales texts from mobile phone users in the first six months of this year as there were in the whole of 2010.
The texts are general messages sent randomly, so many of the mobile phone users that receive them may not be in debt or may not have had an accident.
The messages are often worded along the lines of:
“struggling due to current economic conditions? Reply debt to book a free appointment”
“Our records indicate you may be entitled to compensation for the accident you had. To claim reply YES to this message. To opt out text STOP.”
Nicola Schofield, Trading Standards Team Manager at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “These text messages are often scams to gain personal information and bank details. Replying to the text, and even texting ‘STOP’ is likely to result in further texts asking for personal information which could be misused.
“Our advice is to never respond to unsolicited text messages. If you have a genuine claim for compensation, or a problem with debt contact a reputable personal injury solicitor or your local debt advice service such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.”
Advice on reporting marketing texts is available on the ICO website at www.ico.gov.uk/for_the_public/topic_specific_guides/marketing/texts.aspx
Nottinghamshire County Council is part of a Buy with Confidence scheme, which is an on-line directory of reputable businesses vetted by Trading Standards Officers. For information go to www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk
To report any kind of suspected scam, call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 or go to https://secure.consumerdirect.gov.uk/reportascam.aspx